The pattern of expression of individual cytochrome P450 (CYP) forms participating in the metabolism of xenobiotics is being increasingly well characterised in the human pulmonary tissue. Recent studies using methods having increased sensitivity and specificity, such as the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis, have revealed constitutive and inducible expression of several CYP forms in different cell types of the human lung. These studies have revealed the presence of mRNA of several procarcinogen-activating CYP forms in whole lung tissue and alveolar macrophages, including CYP1A1, CYP2B6/7, CYP2E1, and CYP3A5. The results of several studies on CYP2D6 expression have yielded contradictory results. Immunohistochemical analysis shows that CYP3A5 protein is present in all lung samples studied, and is localized in the ciliated and mucous cells of the bronchial wall, bronchial glands, bronchiolar ciliated and terminal cuboidal epithelium, type I and type II alveolar epithelium, vascular and capillary endothelium, and alveolar macrophages. Also CYP3A4 protein is found in some cell types in a minority (about 20%) of lung samples. Primary cultures of freshly isolated broncho-alveolar macrophages as well as a continuously growing bronchial carcinoma cell line (A-549) are being used for CYP induction studies in our laboratory. The results indicate that CYP1 family members are inducible in these cells by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) inducers, and that CYP3A5, but not CYP3A4, is present constitutively. The results of these studies indicate that several different xenobiotic-metabolizing CYPs are present in the human lung and lung-derived cell lines, possibly contributing to in situ activation of pulmonary procarcinogens. Interindividual differences in the expression of these CYPs may contribute to the risk of developing lung cancer and possibly other pulmonary diseases initiated by agents that require metabolic activation.