A model of human leucopenia has been developed further in the female mouse. Following daily administration to female mice of 50 mg/kg of the aromatase inhibitor aminoglutethimide, significant falls in platelet and white cell counts occurred after 2 and 3 weeks. At week 4, drug dosage was stopped and the cell counts recovered at the end of that week, although on rechallenge at the beginning of week 5, both platelet and white cell counts fell rapidly. Administration to the mice of structural analogues of aminoglutethimide, such as WSP-3, glutethimide and 4-nitroglutethimide, showed no reductions in platelet and white cell counts. The haemotoxicity of aminoglutethimide over 21 days was unaffected by the presence of either the P-450 inhibitor SKF-525A or the hepatic P-450 inducer phenobarbitone. However, the co-administration of cimetidine abolished the haemotoxicity of aminoglutethimide in terms of platelet and white cell levels. In in vitro studies, both aminoglutethimide and WSP-3 were oxidised to cytotoxic species, although aminoglutethimide was significantly more cytotoxic than WSP-3. The NADPH-dependent covalent binding of 14C aminoglutethimide to mouse microsomes in vitro was significantly reduced by the presence of cimetidine. The activation of the compound to reactive species in vitro, the inhibitory effects of cimetidine in vivo and in vitro, as well as the rapid fall in the in vivo white cell count on rechallenge with aminoglutethimide suggest that this model illustrates a form of leucopenia which may be related to hapten formation and subsequent immune-mediated platelet and white cell lysis. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.