The present study was carried out to investigate if ethanol alters aromatization of androgens and concentrations of hepatic estrogen and androgen receptors. Hepatic aromatization of androgen to estrogen was significantly increased by ethanol administration. There was a significant increase in serum estrogen level but a decreased circulating testosterone level in alcohol-fed rats. Furthermore, the concentration of estrogen receptors in liver cytosol was significantly higher in alcohol-fed rats (37 +/- 5.3 fmol/mg protein), as compared to the intact control value (21 +/- 4.8 fmol/mg protein). However, hepatic androgen receptor levels were much lower (4.4 +/- 0.5) in alcohol-fed rats than those (10.2 +/- 1.4 fmol/mg protein) in control animals. Similarly, castration increased hepatic aromatization of androgens and concentrations of serum estrogen and hepatic estrogen receptors, but it decreased contents of circulating androgen and hepatic androgen receptors. These findings indicate that alcohol administration is considered a chemical form of castration, altering the hepatic steroid metabolism and sex hormone receptor contents and contributing to the pathogenesis of feminization. A combination of alcohol-feeding and castration has no synergistic effect on the hepatic steroid receptors and aromatization, but this combination does have a more profound effect in lowering the concentration of circulating androgen.