Dasatinib was approved in 2006 for the treatment of imatinib-resistant chronic myelogenous leukemia and functions primarily through the inhibition of BCR-ABL and Src kinase. Dasatinib is extensively metabolized in humans by CYP3A4. In this study, we report that the bioactivation of dasatinib by CYP3A4 proceeds through a reactive intermediate that leads to CYP3A4 inactivation with K(I) = 6.3 microM and k(inact) = 0.034 min(-1). The major mechanism of inactivation proceeds through hydroxylation at the para-position of the 2-chloro-6-methylphenyl ring followed by further oxidation, forming a reactive quinone-imine, similar to the reactive intermediates formed by acetaminophen and diclofenac. Formation of a reactive imine-methide was also detected but appears to be a minor pathway. When glutathione was added to human liver microsomal incubations, dasatinib-glutathione adducts were detected. Numerous dasatinib analogs were synthesized in an effort to understand what modifications would block the formation of reactive intermediates during dasatinib metabolism. It is interesting to note that blocking the site of hydroxylation with a methyl group was not effective because a reactive imine-methide was formed, nor was blocking the site with fluorine because the fluorine was removed through an oxidative defluorination mechanism and the reactive quinone-imine was still formed. Numerous analogs are presented that did effectively block the formation of glutathione adducts and prevent the inactivation of CYP3A4.