Currently used combinations of anti-HIV drugs, known as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), have considerably reduced the mortality in patients with AIDS. However, HAART medications such as efavirenz (EFV), atazanavir (ATV) and ritonavir (RTV) often cause adverse drug-drug interactions (DDIs) that result from changes in the expression and activity of drug metabolizing enzymes. Since EFV is most commonly used with ATV and RTV, the known CYP inhibitors, we evaluated the effects of combinations of these agents on the CYP3A4 induction by EFV. We determined the induction of CYP3A4 by EFV, RTV, ATV, EFV+RTV, EFV+ATV, EFV+RTV+ATV and rifampicin (RIF) employing primary human hepatocytes from three donors. Also, concentration dependent activation of human Pregnane X Receptor (hPXR) which is a key transcriptional regulator of CYP3A4 by EFV, RIF and RTV was estimated in transiently transfected LS180 cells. CYP3A4 activity (testosterone-6β-hydroxylation) was induced by EFV (3 fold) and RIF (4 fold), but was significantly suppressed in the presence of RTV and ATV. All treatments significantly induced the CYP3A4 transcripts (3-25 fold) as quantitated by RT-PCR. hPXR activation data in LS180 cells were consistent with the induction of transcripts and the estimated EC50 values were 0.87 μM, 0.44 μM and 3.7 μM for RIF, RTV and EFV, respectively. However, in primary hepatocytes the net effect was suppression of EFV mediated CYP3A4 induction by RTV and ATV. This observation corresponds to the clinical observations of attenuated CYP3A4 induction by EFV in the presence of RTV and other protease inhibitors (PIs). Our results underscore the limitation of transcriptional activation assays in predicting the net outcome for compounds that exhibit complex interactions resulting from induction and inhibition of CYP enzymes.