Abstract The mechanisms by which acute administration of methapyrilene, an H 1-receptor antihistamine causes periportal necrosis to rats are unknown. This study investigated the role of the hepato-biliary system in methapyrilene hepatotoxicity following daily administration of 150 mg/kg per day over 3 consecutive days. Biliary metabolites of methapyrilene were tentatively identified. In male Han Wistar rats administration of methapyrilene significantly increased hepatic reduced glutathione (GSH) to 140% of control levels 24 h following the last dose. There were no significant changes in the activities of glutathione-related enzymes, glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and reductase (GSH), glutathione S-transferase (GST), and gamma-glutamyl cysteine synthetase (γ-GCS) over 3 days of methapyrilene administration. Methapyrilene treatment resulted in no significant increase in excretion of biliary oxidized glutathione (GSSG), a sensitive marker of oxidative stress in vivo, following the third dose. [ 3H]Methapyrilene-derived radioactivity was detected in bile, to a greater extent than in feces, indicating that methapyrilene and/or metabolites underwent enterohepatic recirculation. Cannulation and exteriorization of the bile duct (to interrupt enterohepatic recirculation) afforded some protection against the hepatotoxicity, assessed by clinical chemistry and histopathology. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis of bile indicated the presence of unmetabolized methapyrilene, methapyrilene O-glucuronide and desmethyl methapyrilene O-glucuronide. These data demonstrate that acute methapyrilene hepatotoxicity in vivo is not a consequence of GSH depletion, or oxidative stress, but that enterohepatic recirculation of biliary metabolites may be important. Progressive exposure to non-oxidizing, reactive metabolic intermediates may be responsible for hepatotoxicity.