Exposure of precision-cut rat liver slices to six structurally diverse polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, namely benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, dibenzo[a,h]anthracene, dibenzo[a,l]pyrene, fluoranthene and 1-methylphenanthrene, led to induction of ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase, CYP1A apoprotein and CYP1A1 mRNA levels, but to a markedly different extent. In liver slices, constitutive CYP1A1 mRNA levels were higher, as well as being markedly more inducible by PAHs, compared with CYP1B1, a similar profile to that observed in human liver slices following exposure to the PAHs. Increase in ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase and in CYP1A1 apoprotein levels was also observed when precision-cut rat lung slices were incubated with the same PAHs, the order of induction potency being similar to that observed in liver slices. Under the same conditions of exposure, CYP1B1 apoprotein levels were elevated in the lung. Up-regulation of CYP1A1 by the six PAHs correlated with their affinity for the Ah receptor, determined using the chemical-activated luciferase expression (CALUX) assay. It may be concluded that (a) precision-cut liver and lung slices may be used to assess the CYP1 induction potential of chemicals at the activity, apoprotein and mRNA levels; (b) rat is a promising surrogate animal for human in studies to evaluate CYP1 induction potential; (c) CYP1A1 is far more inducible than CYP1B1 in both rat liver and lung; (d) CYP1 up-regulation by PAHs is related to their affinity for the Ah receptor, and finally (e) computer analysis revealed that the ratio of molecular length/width is an important determinant of CYP1 induction potency among equiplanar PAHs.