Garlic organosulfur compounds exert chemopreventive effects at several organ sites in rodents after administration of chemical carcinogens, possibly by inhibiting carcinogen activation via cytochrome P-450-mediated oxidative metabolism. It has been suggested that the variability in potency of tumor inhibition by garlic sulfur compounds is due to structural differences, such as the number of allyl and sulfur groups. In this study, diallyl sulfide (DAS), diallyl disulfide (DADS), and allyl methyl sulfide (AMS) were administered to acetone-treated adult male Sprague-Dawley rats by gastric gavage at a dose of 1.75 mmol/kg in cottonseed oil. After 15 hours, hepatic microsomal cytochrome P-450 activity and content were examined. The activity of p-nitrophenol (pNP) hydroxylase (E.C 188.8.131.52) was significantly decreased by all garlic compounds, whereas benzphetamine N-demethylase and ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase activities were not changed. The activity of pNP hydroxylase was decreased to 31%, 54%, and 65% of control activity, and immunodetectable CYP2E1 protein levels were decreased in a similar manner by DAS, DADS, and AMS, respectively. Additional acetone-treated rats were given 4-methyl pyrazole, a ligand specific for CYP2E1, intraperitoneally five hours after garlic compound administration. Ten hours later, pNP hydroxylase activity was decreased to 73%, 78%, and 67% of control levels by DAS, DADS, and AMS, respectively. Further studies are needed to determine whether the variable potency of inhibition of CYP2E1 enzyme activity is related to chemopreventive efficacy of garlic sulfur compounds.