Primary hyperoxaluria type 1 (PH1) is a rare hereditary calcium oxalate kidney stone disease caused by a deficiency of the liver-specific pyridoxal-phosphate-dependent peroxisomal enzyme alanine:glyoxylate aminotransferase (AGT). About one third of patients are responsive to pharmacological doses of pyridoxine (vitamin B6), but its mechanism of action is unknown. Using stably transformed Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells expressing various normal and mutant forms of AGT, we have shown that pyridoxine increases the net expression, catalytic activity and peroxisomal import of the most common mistargeted mutant form of AGT (i.e. Gly170Arg on the background of the polymorphic minor allele). These multiple effects explain for the first time the action of pyridoxine in the most common group of responsive patients. Partial effects of pyridoxine were also observed for two other common AGT mutants on the minor allele (i.e. Phe152Ile and Ile244Thr) but not for the minor allele mutant AGT containing a Gly41Arg replacement. These findings demonstrate that pyridoxine, which is metabolised to pyridoxal phosphate, the essential cofactor of AGT, achieves its effects both as a prosthetic group (increasing enzyme catalytic activity) and a chemical chaperone (increasing peroxisome targeting and net expression). This new understanding should aid the development of pharmacological treatments that attempt to enhance efficacy of pyridoxine in PH1, as well as encouraging a re-evaluation of the extent of pyridoxine responsiveness in PH1, as more patients than previously thought might benefit from such treatment. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.