Cytochrome P450 reductase is the unique electron donor for microsomal cytochrome P450s; these enzymes play a major role in the metabolism of endogenous and xenobiotic compounds. In mice with a liver-specific deletion of cytochrome P450 reductase, hepatic cytochrome P450 activity is ablated, with consequent changes in bile acid and lipid homoeostasis. In order to gain insights into the metabolic changes resulting from this phenotype, we have analysed changes in hepatic mRNA expression using microarray analysis and real-time PCR. In parallel with the perturbations in bile acid levels, changes in the expression of key enzymes involved in cholesterol and lipid homoeostasis were observed in hepatic cytochrome P450 reductase null mice. This was characterized by a reduced expression of Cyp7b1, and elevation of Cyp7a1 and Cyp8b1 expression. The levels of mRNAs for other cytochrome P450 genes, including Cyp2b10, Cyp2c29, Cyp3a11 and Cyp3a16, were increased, demonstrating that endogenous factors play a role in regulating the expression of these proteins and that the increases are due, at least in part, to altered levels of transcripts. In addition, levels of mRNAs encoding genes involved in glycolysis and lipid transport were also increased; the latter may provide an explanation for the increased hepatic lipid content observed in the hepatic null mice. Serum testosterone and oestradiol levels were lowered, accompanied by significantly decreased expression of Hsd3b2 (3beta-hydroxy-Delta5-steroid dehydrogenase-2), Hsd3b5 (3beta-hydroxy-Delta5-steroid dehydrogenase-5) and Hsd11b1 (11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1), key enzymes in steroid hormone metabolism. These microarray data provide important insights into the control of metabolic pathways by the cytochrome system.