Seven benzimidazole compounds were synthesized and their in vitro effects on rat liver, lung and kidney microsomal NADPH-dependent lipid peroxidation (LP) levels were determined. The significant decrease in male rat liver microsomal LP level was noted only by the compound 4 at 10(-4) M (20%) and 10(-3) M (40%) concentrations whereas the other compounds were ineffective. In lung, only the compound 6 at 10(-4) M concentration exhibited significant alteration, i.e. 56% increase, in LP level. In kidney, however, apart from the compound 4, all the compounds increased LP level(35-52%) significantly. The classical antioxidant, butylated hydroxy toluene (BHT): at 10(-4) M concentration, significantly decreased LP level about 70%, in all the tissues studied. To clarify the effects of compounds 4 and 6 on LP, the responses of some CYPs, which are active in producing reactive oxygen species, to these compounds were also investigated. The compound 4 at 10(-4) and 10(-3) M concentrations inhibited the hepatic microsomal ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase (EROD) (37 and 65%,) and pentoxyresorufin O-depenthylase (PROD) (14 and 62%) enzyme activities significantly. However, it did not alter the hepatic microsomal NADPH-cytochrome P450-reductase activity. BHT, at 10(-3) M concentration, significantly inhibited hepatic microsomal EROD (73%), PROD (62%) and NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase (17%) enzyme activities. Caffeine (10(-3) M) and SKF 525A (10(-3) M), which are specific inhibitors of EROD and PROD enzyme activities, significantly decreased the enzyme activities 33 and 77%, respectively. Caffeine was unable to alter hepatic microsomal NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase enzyme activity whereas SKF 525A significantly inhibited(80%) of it. In lung and kidney, the compound 6 at 10(-4) M concentration significantly increased EROD (44 and 19%) and PROD (103 and 86%) enzyme activities. However, the elevation of PROD enzyme activity in both tissues was observed to be more pronounced than that of EROD enzyme activity. This compound was ineffective on lung and kidney microsomal P450-reductase enzyme activity. These results reveal that the synthesized benzimidazoles have variable tissue dependent in vitro effects on LP due to their distinct effects on CYP activities but not on NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase activity in rats. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.