Blood is a site of physiological transport for a great variety of molecules, including xenobiotics. Blood cells in aquatic vertebrates, such as fish, are directly exposed to aquatic pollution. P-gp are ubiquitous "membrane detoxification proteins" implicated in the cellular efflux of various xenobiotics, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which may be pollutants. The existence of this P-gp detoxification system inducible by benzo [a] pyrene (BaP), a highly cytotoxic PAH, was investigated in the nucleated erythrocytes of brown trout. Western blot analysis showed the expression of a 140-kDa P-gp in trout erythrocytes. Primary cultures of erythrocytes exposed to increasing concentrations of BaP showed no evidence of cell toxicity. Yet, in the same BaP-treated erythrocytes, P-gp expression increased significantly in a dose-dependent manner. Brown trout P-gp erythrocytes act as membrane defence mechanism against the pollutant, a property that can be exploited for future biomarker development to monitor water quality.