Cellular accumulation and efflux of the anionic fluorescent dye carboxy-2',7'-dichlorofluorescein (CF) were studied in rat liver SDVI cells thought to derive from primitive bile ductules, in order to characterize carrier-related membrane transport of organic anions in epithelial cells. Probenecid, a common blocker of anion transport, was found to strongly enhance CF levels in SDVI cells in a dose-dependent manner through inhibition of dye efflux. Such an outwardly-directed transport was demonstrated to be temperature-dependent and down-regulated by various metabolic inhibitors, therefore outlining its requirement for energy; it was shown to be Na+- and membrane potential-independent and inhibited by anionic drugs such as indomethacin, indoprofen and rifamycin B. These functional features are closed to those described for multidrug resistance-associated protein 1 (MRP1) that was furthermore demonstrated, in contrast to P-glycoprotein, to be expressed in SDVI cells and to lower CF accumulation in MRP1-overexpressing drug-resistant tumor cells. These data therefore suggest that active membrane transport of organic anions such as CF occurs in epithelial cells like cultured liver biliary SDVI cells through a MRP1-related efflux system.