The in vitro metabolism of CJ-11,972, (2-benzhydryl-1-aza-bicyclo[2.2.2]oct-3-yl)-(5-tert-butyl-2-methoxybenzyl)amine, an NK1 receptor antagonist, was studied in human liver microsomes and recombinant human CYP isoforms. Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) and tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) coupled to radioactive detection were used to detect and identify the metabolites. CJ-11,972 was extensively metabolized in human liver microsomes and recombinant human CYP 3A4/3A5 isoforms. A total of fourteen metabolites were identified by a combination of various MS techniques. The major metabolic pathways were due to oxidation of the tert-butyl moiety to form an alcohol (M6) and/or O-demethylation of the anisole moiety. The alcohol metabolite M6 was further oxidized to the corresponding aldehyde (M7) and carboxylic acid (M4). Two unusual metabolites (M13, M17), formed by C-demethylation of the tert-butyl group, were identified as 2-{3-[(2-benzhydryl-1-aza-bicyclo[2.2.2]oct-3-ylamino)methyl]-4-methoxyphenyl}propan-2-ol and (2-benzhydryl-1-aza-bicyclo[2.2.2]oct-3-yl)-(5-isopropenyl-2-methoxybenzyl)amine. A plausible mechanism for C-demethylation may involve oxidation of M6 to form an aldehyde metabolite (M7), followed by cytochrome P450-mediated deformylation leaving an unstable carbon-centered radical, which would quickly form either the alcohol metabolite M13 and the olefin metabolite M17. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.