We examined in normal men and women the effects of chronic ethanol consumption and the coadministration of cimetidine and ranitidine on the kinetics of ethanol. We found that the consumption of 45 gm ethanol per day for 3 weeks increased the apparent volume of distribution of ethanol in men from 732 to 884 ml/kg (P < 0.01) but had no such effect in women (697 ml/kg before ethanol and 746 ml/kg after chronic ethanol consumption). This combined therapy had no effect on the rate of ethanol disappearance in either sex. In men the rate of disappearance was 165 mg/L/hr before and 168 mg/L/hr after chronic consumption, while in women the respective values were 209 and 203 mg/L/hr. The addition of either cimetidine or ranitidine had no effect on either parameter compared with values observed on day 22 of the study. In view of the known inhibitory effects of cimetidine on cytochrome P-450-dependent enzymes, our data suggest that this enzyme system does not metabolize a significant fraction of ingested ethanol in subjects who have consumed moderate doses of alcohol for several weeks.