The present study was performed to determine if trans-resveratrol (3,5,4'-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene) modulates the catalytic activity and gene expression of cytochrome P450 1B1 (CYP1B1). In vitro, trans-resveratrol decreased human recombinant CYP1B1-catalyzed 7-ethoxyresorufin O-dealkylation activity, with an IC50 value of 1.4 +/- 0.2 microM (mean +/- SEM). Enzyme kinetic analysis indicated that trans-resveratrol inhibited CYP1B1 enzyme activity by a mixed-type inhibition and the apparent Ki was 0.75 +/- 0.06 microM. To determine if trans-resveratrol modulates constitutive CYP1B1 gene expression, cultured MCF-7 human breast carcinoma cells were treated with trans-resveratrol. As indicated by RT-PCR analysis, treatment of MCF-7 cells with 10 microM trans-resveratrol decreased relative CYP1B1 mRNA levels after 5 h, but not after 1.5 or 3 h, of exposure. trans-Resveratrol treatment at 5, 7.5, 10, or 20 microM for 5 h produced a concentration-dependent decrease in CYP1B1 mRNA levels. The extent of suppression was approximately 50% at 20 microM concentration. The suppressive effect was not a consequence of a toxic response to the compound as assessed by a cell proliferation assay. Overall, our novel finding that trans-resveratrol inhibits the catalytic activity and suppresses the constitutive gene expression of CYP1B1 leads to the possibility that this nutraceutical confers protection against toxicity and carcinogenicity induced by compounds that undergo CYP1B1-catalyzed bioactivation.