Background: Irinotecan is a topoisomerase I inhibitor that has been approved for use as a first- and second-line treatment for colorectal cancer. The response to irinotecan is variable, possibly because of interindividual variation in the expression of the enzymes that metabolize irinotecan, including cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) and uridine diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase 1A1 (UGT1Al). We prospectively explored the relationships between CYP3A phenotype, as assessed by erythromycin metabolism and midazolam clearance, and the metabolism of irinotecan and its active metabolite SN-38. Methods: Of the 30 white cancer patients, 27 received at least two treatments with irinotecan administered as one 90-minute infusion (dose, 600 mg) with 3 weeks between treatments, and three received only one treatment. Before the first and second treatments, patients underwent an erythromycin breath test and a midazolam clearance test as phenotyping probes for CYP3A4. Erythromycin metabolism was assessed as the area under the curve for the flux of radioactivity in exhaled CO2 within 40 minutes after administration of [N-methyl-14 C]erythromycin. Midazolam and irinotecan were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. Genomic DNA was isolated from blood and screened for genetic variants in CYP3A4 and UGTA1A1. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: CYP3A4 activity varied sevenfold (range = 0.223%-1.53% of dose) among patients, whereas midazolam clearance varied fourfold (range = 262-1012 mL/min), although intraindividual variation was small. Erythromycin metabolism was not statistically significantly associated with irinotecan clearance (P = .090), whereas midazolam clearance was highly correlated with irinotecan clearance (r = .745, P<.001). In addition, the presence of a UGT1A1 variant with a (TA)7 repeat in the promoter (UGT1A1*28) was associated with increased exposure to SN-38 (435 ng · h/mL, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 339 to 531 ng · h/mL in patients who are homozygous for wild-type UGT1A1; 631 ng · h/mL, 95% CI = 499 to 762 ng · h/mL in heterozygous patients; and 1343 ng · h/mL, 95% CI = 0 to 4181 ng · h/mL in patients who are homozygous for UGT1A1*28) (P = .006). Conclusion: CYP3A4 phenotype, as assessed by midazolam clearance, is statistically significantly associated with irinotecan pharmacokinetics. Evaluation of midazolam clearance combined with UGT1A1*28 genotyping may assist with optimization of irinotecan chemotherapy.