The hormonal regulation of rat renal cytochrome P450s, P450 4A2 (K-5) and K-2, was investigated. The level of P450 4A2 in male rats was five times that in female rats and accounted for some 90% of total cytochrome P450, measured photometrically. Lauric acid omega- and (omega-1)-hydroxylation activities of renal microsomes of male rats were also higher than those of female rats. The sex differences in lauric acid hydroxylation activity seemed to arise from the differences in P450 4A2 concentrations, according to an immunochemical study. P450 K-2 was a female-dominant form in rat kidneys. The level of P450 K-2 in renal microsomes of male rats was one-tenth that of P450 4A2. Castration of male rats decreased the levels of P450 4A2 and treatment of castrated male rats with testosterone reversed the decrease. The castration of male rats decreased the lauric acid hydroxylation of the renal microsomes to the level of female rats. The administration of testosterone to castrated male rats reversed the decrease. Hypophysectomy of male rats decreased the level of P450 4A2 and the administration of growth hormone reversed the decrease when intermittent injections mimicking the male secretory pattern were given, although continuous administration mimicking the female secretory pattern did not. Castration of male rats did not affect the level of P450 K-2, but testosterone decreased its level. Hypophysectomy of male rats increased the level of P450 K-2 and growth hormone decreased its level in hypophysectomized rats. These results suggested that the expression of P450 4A2 was regulated by androgen or growth hormone and regulation of P450 4A2 was different from that of P450 K-2. To explore the regulation of renal cytochrome P450 further, testosterone was given to control (intact) or hypophysectomized adult female rats. P450 4A2 was induced in the kidneys of both control and hypophysectomized female rats to close to the level of male rats. Thus, P450 4A2 was directly regulated by testosterone as well as growth hormone, and the regulation of the male-dominant form in rat kidneys was different from that of the male-specific form in the rat liver, which is regulated mostly by growth hormone.