SU-10'603 is a pyridine derivative that has been widely used as a steroid 17-hydroxylase inhibitor. Studies were done to compare the effects of SU-10'603 with those of the structurally related compound, metyrapone, on hepatic microsomal drug metabolism in vitro in rats and guinea pigs. In rat liver microsomes, SU-10'603 produced a concentration-dependent (0.01 to 1.0 mM) inhibition of ethylmorphine demethylation, aniline hydroxylation, and benzo[a]pyrene hydroxylation. A concentration of 0.1 to 0.2 mM decreased the metabolism of all three substrates by approximately 50%. SU-10'603 was a more potent inhibitor of ethylmorphine metabolism than metyrapone, and its relative potency was even greater with respect to aniline and benzo[a]pyrene metabolism. Similar results were obtained with guinea pig liver microsomes. SU-10'603 and metyrapone produced type II spectral changes in hepatic microsomes, but the apparent affinity of SU-10'603 for cytochrome(s) P-450 was greater than that of metyrapone. Both compounds inhibited the binding of type I substrates to microsomal cytochromes P-450; SU-10'603 was the more potent inhibitor. The results indicate that SU-10'603 is a potent inhibitor of hepatic microsomal monooxygenases whose mechanism of action is similar to that of metyrapone.