Several recent studies have demonstrated that the cytochrome p450 (CYP) family plays an important role in the metabolism of taxanes. However, the role of CYP gene expression in tumors and peripheral mononuclear cells (PMN) is unknown. We therefore investigated the levels of CYP3A4 and CYP2C gene expression using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in PMN from 16 previously untreated lung cancer patients to determine whether the expression of the two genes is induced by docetaxel (TXT). Neither the CYP3A4 nor the CYP2C gene was induced after administration of carboplatin (CBDCA) alone. Expression of the CYP3A4 gene was induced by the administration of TXT alone or TXT and CBDCA, but expression of the CYP2C gene was unaffected. We also measured the expression of both genes using RT-PCR in 20 autopsy samples (ten non-small-cell lung cancers and their corresponding normal lung tissues) obtained from patients who had not received any chemotherapy during life. The level of CYP2C gene expression in samples of lung cancer was significantly higher than in normal lung tissue, but the level of CYP3A4 gene expression was not. These results suggest that the CYP3A4 gene is induced by TXT, and that it plays an important role in intracellular TXT metabolism.