The role of quorum sensing (QS) in the regulation of virulence factor production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa is well established. Increased antibiotic resistance in this bacterium has led to the search for new treatment options, and inhibition of the QS system has been explored for potential therapeutic benefits. If the use of QS inhibitory agents were to lead to a reduction in bacterial virulence, new approaches in the treatment of P. aeruginosa infections could be further developed. Accordingly, we examined whether human serum paraoxonase 1 (hPON1), which uses lactonase activity to hydrolyse N-acyl homoserine lactones, could cleave P. aeruginosa-derived signalling molecules. hPON1 was purified using ammonium sulfate precipitation and hydrophobic interaction chromatography (Sepharose 4B-L-tyrosine-1-naphthylamine). Different concentrations of hPON1 were found to reduce various virulence factors including pyocyanin, rhamnolipid, elastase, staphylolytic LasA protease and alkaline protease. Although treatment with 0.1-10 mg hPON1 ml(-1) did not show a highly inhibitory effect on elastase and staphylolytic LasA protease production, it resulted in good inhibitory effects on alkaline protease production at concentrations as low as 0.1 mg ml(-1). hPON1 also reduced the production of pyocyanin and rhamnolipid at a concentration of 1.25 mg ml(-1) (within a range of 0.312-5 mg ml(-1)). In addition, rhamnolipid, an effective biosurfactant reported to stimulate the biodegradation of hydrocarbons, was able to degrade oil only in the absence of hPON1.