1. Allopurinol (4-hydroxypyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine) selectively inhibits the apotryptophan pyrrolase activity in homogenates of rat liver in vitro and after intraperitoneal administration. The inhibition is abolished by an excess of haematin. The allopurinol metabolite alloxanthine has no effect on the pyrrolase activity in vitro or after administration. Allopurinol also inhibits the activation of the enzyme in vitro by ascorbate, ethanol plus NAD+, NADH, hypoxanthine or xanthine. It is suggested that these agents cause the conversion of a latent form of the pyrrolase into the apoenzyme, and that xanthine oxidase is not involved in this process. 2. The raised total pyrrolase activity observed after the administration of cortisol, cyclic AMP, tryptophan, salicylate or ethanol is lowered by allopurinol in vitro to the corresponding holoenzyme values. A similar effect is observed when allopurinol is administered shortly before cortisol or cyclic AMP. Pretreatment of rats with allopurinol completely prevents the enhancement of the pyrrolase activities by tryptophan, salicylate or ethanol. 3. It is suggested that allopurinol inhibits rat liver tryptophan pyrrolase activity in vitro and after administration by preventing the conjugation of the apoenzyme with its haem activator. The possible usefulness of combined allopurinol–tryptophan therapy of affective disorders is discussed.

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