Interindividual variations in the level and activity of cytochrome P-450 enzymes were investigated in the liver microsomes of 30 Japanese and 30 Caucasian patients. The P-450 enzymes used in this study included P-450 1A2, 2A6, 2B6, 2C, 2D6, 2E1 and 3A, and the monooxygenase activities determined were 13 typical P-450 substrates and 9 procarcinogens. Although the total P-450 content was higher in Caucasian (mean, 0.43 nmol/mg of protein) than in Japanese populations (mean, 0.26 nmol/mg of protein), the relative levels (percent of total P-450) of individual forms of P-450 determined immunochemically were not very different except that P-450 2A6 and 2B6 levels were higher in the Caucasians. About 70% of liver P-450 could be accounted for by P-450 1A2, 2A6, 2B6, 2C, 2D6, 2E1 and 3A proteins, and P-450 3A (about 30% of total P-450) and 2C (about 20%) enzymes were found to be the major forms. Considerable levels of P-450 1A2 (about 13%) and 2E1 (about 7%) could be determined, whereas the P-450 2A6 (about 4%), 2D6 (about 2%) and 2B6 (< 1%) were the minor P-450 forms. Differences in some of the P-450 1A2-, 2A6-, 2D6-, 2E1- and 3A4-dependent activities were observed in Japanese and Caucasian populations. No clear sex-related differences in individual P-450 contents and drug- and carcinogen-metabolizing activities were detected in 60 human samples, except that P-450 1A2-dependent activities were found to be higher in mean than in women in the Caucasian population only. A single neonate sample tended to be lower in P-450 1A2-, 2A6- and 2E1-dependent activities. In contrast to rat counterparts, we could not detect apparent developmental changes in P-450 content and activity in humans between 12 and 73 years old. Thus, the results presented in this study provide useful information for the study of drug biotransformation in humans and for the basis of drug toxicities, carcinogenesis and teratogenesis.