An analytic formalism developed earlier to describe the time evolution of the basic enzyme reaction is extended to fully competitive systems. Time-dependent closed form solutions are derived for the three nominal cases of competition: even, slow and fast inhibitors, allowing for the first time the complete characterization of the reactions. In agreement with previous work, the time-independent Michaelis-Menten approach is shown to be inaccurate when a fast inhibitor is present. The validity of the quasi-steady-state approximation on which the present framework is based is also revised. (C) 2000 Society for Mathematical Biology.