A range of potential chemoprotective agents, most of them natural dietary constituents, has been examined for ability to modulate both phase I (cytochrome P450 1A1, 1A2, 2B1/2, 2C11, 2E1, 3A, 4A) and phase II drug metabolizing enzymes (glutathione S-transferases, in particular subunits Yc2 and P, aflatoxin B1-aldehyde reductase and quinone reductase) in rat liver. In addition to assays of total enzyme activity and Western blots for individual isozymes, the ability of microsomes to metabolize aflatoxin B1, and of cytosols to conjugate aflatoxin B1 (AFB1)-epoxide to GSH and to produce AFB1-dialcohol, were measured. Induction of γ-glutamyl transpeptidase activity was examined by histochemistry. Differing patterns of induction were observed, reflecting differences in the control of expression of the individual enzymes studied. Of the compounds examined, butylated hydroxytoluene, ethoxyquin, indole-3-carbinol and phenethyl isothiocyanate were the most potent bifunctional agents (inducing both phase I and II activities). Oltipraz, while only weakly inducing CYP1A2 and 2B1/2, was a potent inducer of phase II enzymes. Caffeic acid, garlic oil, sinigrin and propyl gallate all showed some ability to induce phase II enzymes. 4-Methyl catechol, α-tocopherol and red wine decreased certain phase I enzyme activities, while inducing total GST activity. Butylated hydroxytoluene, ethoxyquin, garlic oil and indole-3-carbinol induced gamma glutamyltranspeptidase in periportal hepatocytes. Particularly because of their ability to induce the detoxifying activities of glutathione S-transferase Yc2 and aldehyde reductase, butylated hydroxytoluene, ethoxyquin, indole-3-carbinol, oltipraz, phenethyl isothiocyanate and sinigrin will be effective blocking agents in rodents, if administered prior to AFB1. While these studies indicate the relative contributions of phase I and II metabolism in the overall protective effect in rat, care should be taken that a similar balance is achieved in man, and that relevant enzymes or iso forms are induced.