The relationship between the plasma ratio of dihydrouracil/uracil (UH2/Ura) and hepatic dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) activity after repeated 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) treatment in rats with colorectal cancer (CRC) was investigated. Repeated intravenous 5-FU bolus injections resulted in a significant decrease in the total clearance (CLtot) and an increased area under the curve (AUC0-∞) in CRC rats. Furthermore, the hepatic DPD levels and the plasma ratio of UH2/Ura decreased significantly and lost their circadian rhythms in CRC rats treated repeatedly with 5-FU, although significant circadian variation in the two parameters was observed in the control CRC rats. Moreover, a significant correlation was found between the plasma ratio of UH2/Ura and hepatic DPD activity in CRC rats untreated and treated with single or repeated 5-FU administration (r2 = 0.865, p < 0.01). The ratio of UH2/Ura in plasma could be a predictive biomarker of the suppression of hepatic DPD levels during repeated 5-FU-based treatment. Furthermore, by plotting the observed pharmacokinetic parameters of 5-FU against hepatic DPD activity levels predicted by the ratio of UH2/Ura in plasma, AUC0-∞, CLtot and half-life (t1/2) were closely linked to predicted hepatic DPD activity levels. These observations suggest that the factor that significantly influences the AUC0-∞, CLtot and t1/2 of 5-FU after single or repeated administration of 5-FU is the hepatic DPD activity and it could be assessed by the ratio of UH2/Ura in plasma. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.