Norharman (9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole) and harman (1-methyl-9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole) contained in cigarette smoke and cooked foodstuffs, are non-mutagenic to Salmonella strains, but show co-mutagenicity with S9 mixture in the presence of aniline or o-toluidine. The resulting 9-(4'-aminophenyl)-9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole (aminophenylnorharman, APNH), 9-(4'-amino-3'-methylphenyl)-9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole (aminomethylphenylnorharman, AMPNH) and 9-(4'-aminophenyl)-1-methyl-9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole (aminophenylharman, APH) are produced by coupling of norharman and aniline, norharman and o-toluidine, and harman and aniline in the presence of S9 mixture, respectively. To clarify the role of human cytochrome P450 (P450) and N-acetyltransferase (NAT) enzymes in the metabolic activation of APNH, AMPNH and APH, we determined the genotoxicity of these coupling chemicals using a variety of umu tester strains established in our laboratories. APNH, AMPNH and APH induced umuC gene expression more strongly in a bacterial O-acetyltransferase-overproducing strain than the parent strain. These chemicals were also found to induce umuC gene expression in NAT2-overexpressing strain at much higher rate than the NAT1-overexpressing strain. Among seven OY strains expressing human P450s and NADPH-P450 reductase used, the genotoxicity of APNH, AMPNH and APH was detected in OY1002/1A2 strain, OY1002/1A1 and OY1002/1A2 strains, and in OY1002/1A2 strain, respectively. From these results, it is concluded that APNH, AMPNH and APH are mainly bioactivated by P450 1A2 and NAT2, followed by NAT1 enzymes. P450 1A1 was also found to activate AMPNH at relatively slower rates.