The pyrazolone drug metamizole is a widely used analgesic. Analysis of liver microsomes from patients treated with metamizole revealed selectively higher expression of cytochromes P450, CYP2B6 and CYP3A4 (3.8- and 2.8-fold, respectively), and 2.9-fold higher bupropion hydroxylase activity compared with untreated subjects. Further investigation of metamizole and various derivatives on different potential target genes in human primary hepatocytes demonstrated time- and concentration-dependent induction by metamizole of CYP2B6 (7.8- and 3.1-fold for mRNA and protein, respectively, at 100 muM) and CYP3A4 (2.4- and 2.9-fold, respectively), whereas other genes (CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, NADPH:cytochrome P450 reductase, ABCB1, constitutive androstane receptor (CAR), pregnane X receptor (PXR)) were not substantially altered. Using reporter gene assays, we show that metamizole is not acting as a direct ligand to either PXR or CAR, suggesting a phenobarbital-like mechanism of induction. These data warrant further studies to elucidate the drug-interaction potential of metamizole, especially in patients with long-term treatment.