Previous studies suggest that hepatic cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) activity is increased in individuals with chronic alcoholism, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and morbid obesity, and may contribute to liver disease. We studied 16 morbidly obese subjects with varying degrees of hepatic steatosis and 16 normal-weight controls. Obese subjects were evaluated at baseline, 6 weeks, and 1 year after gastroplasty, a procedure that leads to weight loss. Hepatic CYP2E1 activity was assessed by determination of the clearance of chlorzoxazone (CLZ), an in vivo CYP2E1-selective probe. Liver biopsy tissue was obtained during surgery for histopathology. Both the total and unbound oral CLZ clearance (Clu/F) was elevated approximately threefold in morbidly obese subjects compared with controls (P < .001). The Clu/F was significantly higher among subjects with steatosis involving >50% of hepatocytes, compared with those with steatosis in ≤50% of hepatocytes (P = .02). At postoperative week 6 and year 1, the median body mass index (BMI) of subjects who underwent gastroplasty decreased by 11% and 33%, total oral CLZ clearance declined by 16% (P < .01) and 46% (P < .05), and Clu/F decreased by 18% (P < .05) and 35% (P = .16), respectively. Moreover, those subjects with a year 1 BMI <30 kg/m2 exhibited a median Clu/F that was 63% lower (P = .02) than the respective clearance for all other subjects. In conclusion, hepatic CYP2E1 activity is up-regulated in morbidly obese subjects. A positive association between the degree of steatosis and CYP2E1 activity preoperatively and between the extent of obesity and CYP2E1 activity postoperatively, suggests that CYP2E1 induction is related to or caused by hepatic pathology that results from morbid obesity.