Endogenous estrogen metabolism may play an important role m the pathogenesis of hormone-related cancers, most notably breast cancer. Despite the importance of estrogen metabolism, little is known about estrogen metabolite profiles during different phases of the menstrual cycle. This study was performed to evaluate the effects of the menstrual cycle on endogenous estrogen metabolism. Twenty-four-hour urine samples were collected daily during 4 precisely defined phases of the menstrual cycle (early follicular, midfollicular, periovulatory, and midluteal phases) from 6 healthy premenopausal women. Urine samples were analyzed for 15 endogenous estrogens and their metabolites by an ion exchange chromatography and the capillary gas chromatography-mass spectrometry method. The patterns of urinary estrogen metabolites (including potentially genotoxic 16α-hydroxyestrone, 4-hydroxyestradiol, and 4-hydroxyestrone) followed those of plasma estradiol and estrone, showing significant increases in the periovulatory and midluteal phases. Compared to the early and midfollicular phases, the ratios of 2-hydroxyestrogens/16α-hydroxyestrogens and 2-hydroxyestrogens/4-hydroxyestrogens were significantly increased during the periovulatory and midluteal phases (by 28% and 72%, respectively; P < 0.05), suggesting that estrogen metabolism is significantly affected by menstrual cycle phase. These data indicate that menstrual cycle phase must be considered in studies of estrogen metabolism in premenopausal women.