Arylamine N-acetyltransferase (NAT) polymorphism in humans has been associated with variation in susceptibility to drug toxicity and cancer. In mice, three NAT isoenzymes are encoded by Nat1, Nat2 and Nat3 genes. Only Nat2 has been shown previously to be polymorphic, a single nucleotide substitution causing the slow acetylator phenotype in the A/J strain. We sequenced the Nat genes from inbred (CBA and 129/Ola), outbred (PO and TO) and wild-derived inbred (Mus spretus and Mus musculus castaneus) mouse strains and report polymorphism in all three Nat genes of M. spretus and in Nat2 and Nat3 genes of M. m. castaneus. Enzymatic activity assays using liver homogenates demonstrated that M. m. castaneus is a 'fast' and M. spretus a 'slow' acetylator. Western blot analysis indicated that hepatic NAT2 protein is less abundant in M. spretus than M. m. castaneus. The new allozymes were expressed in a mammalian cell line and NAT enzymatic activity was measured with a series of substrates. NAT1 and NAT2 isoenzymes of M. m. castaneus exhibited a higher rate of acetylation, compared with those of M. spretus. Activity of the NAT3 allozymes was hardly detectable, although the Nat3 gene does appear to be transcribed, since mRNA was detected by RT-PCR in the spleen. Additional polymorphisms, useful for Nat-related genetic studies, have been identified between BALB/c, C57Bl/6J, A/J, 129/Ola, CBA, PO, TO, M. m. castaneus and M. spretus strains in four microsatellite repeats located close to the Nat genes.