The present study was aimed at determining whether the deconjugation step in chemical analysis could be omitted without altering the outcome of phenotyping CYP2D6 with dextromethorphan. This drug and its metabolite, dextrorphan, were assayed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) in urine. Urinary levels of dextromethorphan and dextrorphan with and without enzymatic (beta-glucuronidase) treatment of urine and the metabolic ratios for dextromethorphan were determined in 45 subjects. Although the enzymatic treatment did not alter the urinary concentration of dextromethorphan in both phenotypes, it increased the urinary concentration of dextrorphan in both poor and extensive metabolizers by 3.7- and 12.8-fold, respectively. A urinary unconjugated dextromethorphan/unconjugated dextrorphan metabolic ratio of 2.00 and a total dextromethorphan/total dextrorphan metabolic ratio of 0.30, respectively, identified three poor metabolizers. Enzymatic treatment decreased the urinary antimode value. Moreover, the urinary metabolic ratio based on unconjugated dextrorphan and dextromethorphan correlated well with that based on assay of total dextrorphan and dextromethorphan (r(s) = 0.9458, P < 0.001). The results show that urinary analysis of dextrorphan and dextromethorphan omitting the enzymatic deconjugation step is a fast, reliable and sensitive method and could be used for studying CYP2D6 type genetic polymorphism in man.