The inhibitory effects of valproate (VPA) and nine of its metabolites on mitochondrial oxidations have been investigated. Valproate, 4-ene-VPE, 2,4-diene-VPA and 2-propylglutaric acid inhibited the rate of oxygen consumption by rat liver mitochondrial fractions with long- and medium-chain fatty acids, glutamate (+/- malate), succinate, alpha-ketoglutarate (+ malate) and pyruvate (+ malate) as substrates. Sequestration of intramitochondrial free CoA by valproate and these three metabolites has been demonstrated and quantified. However, CoA trapping could not account for all the inhibitions observed. 2-ene-VPA and 3-oxo-VPA, metabolites formed during the beta-oxidation of valproate, were not capable of trapping intramitochondrial CoA although they were inhibitors of the beta-oxidation of decanoate, probably by inhibition of the medium-chain acyl-CoA synthetase.