Abstract: Administration of melatonin to rodents decreases the incidence of tumorigenesis initiated by benzo[a]pyrene or 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene, which requires bioactivation by cytochrome P450 enzymes, such as CYP1A1, CYP1A2 and CYP1B1, to produce carcinogenic metabolites. The present study tested the hypothesis that melatonin is a modulator of human CYP1 catalytic activity and gene expression. As a comparison, we also investigated the effect of melatonin on the catalytic activity of CYP2A6, which is also a procarcinogen-bioactivating enzyme. Melatonin (3–300 μm) decreased 7-ethoxyresorufin O-dealkylation catalyzed by human hepatic microsomes and recombinant CYP1A1, CYP1A2 and CYP1B1, whereas it did not affect coumarin 7-hydroxylation catalyzed by hepatic microsomes or recombinant CYP2A6. Melatonin inhibited CYP1 enzymes by mixed inhibition, with apparent Ki values (mean ± S.E.M.) of 59 ± 1 (CYP1A1), 12 ± 1 (CYP1A2), 14 ± 2 (CYP1B1) and 46 ± 8 μm (hepatic microsomes). Additional experiments indicated that melatonin decreased benzo[a]pyrene hydroxylation catalyzed by hepatic microsomes and CYP1A2 but not by CYP1A1 or CYP1B1. Treatment of MCF-10A human mammary epithelial cells with melatonin (up to 300 μm) did not affect basal or benzo[a]pyrene-inducible CYP1A1 or CYP1B1 gene expression. Consistent with this finding, melatonin did not influence reporter activity in aryl hydrocarbon receptor-dependent pGudluc6.1-transfected MCF-10A cells treated with or without benzo[a]pyrene, as assessed in an in vitro cell-based luciferase reporter gene assay. Overall, melatonin is an in vitro inhibitor of human CYP1 catalytic activity, and it may be useful to develop potent analogues of melatonin as potential cancer chemopreventive agents that block CYP1-mediated chemical carcinogenesis.