ATP-dependent coenzyme A (CoA) ligases catalyse the formation of the acyl-CoA thioesters of xenobiotic carboxylic acids and the formation of xenobiotic-CoAs has been implicated as being a causative factor in peroxisomal proliferation. In this study we have demonstrated using rat liver peroxisomes that the formation of palmitoyl-CoA is inhibited by a variety of xenobiotic carboxylic acids. Palmitoyl-CoA formation exhibited biphasic kinetics indicative of two isoforms, a high affinity (Kml 2.3 μM) low capacity form and a low affinity (Km2 831 μM) high capacity form. These forms were differentially inhibited by a range of xenobiotics. However, it would appear that the low affinity component may not contribute to any major extent to the formation of xenobiotic-CoAs in vivo. At a concentration of 1 mM, greater than 20% inhibition of the high affinity form was observed with the 2-arylpropionates, ibuprofen, naproxen, benoxaprofen, fenoprofen, indoprofen, ketoprofen, tiaprofenic acid and cicloprofen, the hypolipidaemics, nafenopin and ciprofibrate, and the herbicides, silvex and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetate. Valproic acid, clofibric acid, salicylic acid and 2,4-dichlorophenoxy-acetate were non-inhibitory at all concentrations studied (0.1-2.5 mM). Analysis of the type of inhibition established that only nafenopin (Ki, 430 μM) and ciprofibrate (Ki, 97 μM) were competitive inhibitors of palmitoyl-CoA formation suggesting that they bind at the active site and thus potentially function as alternative substrates for the peroxisomal ligase. Notably, clofibric acid which has previously been shown to form clofibroyl-CoA in peroxisomes did not interact with the palmitoyl-CoA ligase thereby suggesting that activation is mediated via an alternative peroxisomal CoA ligase. In addition, the xenobiotic inhibitors of the peroxisomal palmitoyl-CoA ligase differed from those previously reported for the equivalent microsomal enzyme suggesting that the organellar forms may be functionally distinct. This study establishes that numerous xenobiotic carboxylic acids interact with the peroxisomal palmitoyl-CoA ligase; however, it would appear that relatively few function as alternative substrates. The toxicological ramifications of peroxisomally mediated xenobiotic-CoA formation and the identification of other peroxisomal xenobiotic-CoA ligase(s) remain to be elucidated.