Family 3A mammalian liver cytochromes P450 (3A1, rat; 3A3/4, human) catalyze the 6 beta-hydroxylation of endogenous steroids and are steroid inducible. Our recent finding that A6 cells (a toad kidney epithelial cell line) contain corticosterone 6 beta-hydroxylase activity as a steroid-inducible microsomal cytochrome P450 raised the possibility that corticosterone 6 beta-hydroxylase activity in the A6 cells is catalyzed by a member of the 3A family. We found that incubation of A6 cell microsomes from dexamethasone-induced cells with antibodies against family 3A proteins specifically inhibited corticosterone 6 beta-hydroxylase activity. Microsomes from A6 cells analyzed on immunoblots developed with family 3A specific antibodies revealed immunoreactive proteins and treatment of A6 with corticosterone or dexamethasone increased the amounts of 3A immunoreactive protein(s). Furthermore, A6 RNA hybridized with 3A cDNAs on Northern blots and genomic DNA from A6 cells hybridized with a 3A cDNA on a Southern blot. Thus, toad kidney A6 cells express a family 3A P450 that is immunochemically, functionally, and genetically related to the mammalian liver 3A proteins. Prompted by these findings in amphibian kidney, we examined mammalian kidney for evidence of family 3A proteins. Immunocytochemical studies of frozen cryostat sections of normal adult rat kidney incubated with 3A1 antibody showed immunoreactivity only with collecting duct. Immunoblot analysis of human kidney microsomes found three protein bands representing 3A3/4, 3A5, and a 53-kDa Mr protein immunoreactive with human 3A antibody. An unexpected finding was the polymorphic expression of 3A3/4 in human kidney with only one of seven (14%) adult human kidneys tested expressing this protein while 3A5, a protein which is polymorphically expressed in adult human livers, was routinely present in the adult human kidney samples tested. Since human fetal liver contains a family 3A P450 we examined human fetal kidney microsomes by immunoblot analysis with human liver 3A antibody and found expression of a protein tentatively identified as 3A7. Thus, like A6 amphibian cells, family 3A P450 proteins and mRNAs are prominent, functional components in the kidney of mammals, including man.