Hepoxilin epoxide hydrolase activity was demonstrated in rat liver cytosol using as substrate [1-14C] hepoxilin A3, a recently described hydroxy epoxide derivative of arachidonic acid. The enzyme was isolated and purified to apparent homogeneity using conventional chromatographic procedures resulting in 41-fold purification. The protein eluted during isoelectric focusing at a pI in the 5.3-5.4 range. The specific activity of the purified protein was 1.2 ng/microgram protein/20 min at 37 degrees C. On sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, under denaturing conditions, a molecular mass value of 53 kDa was observed. Using native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, enzyme activity corresponded to the main protein band. The purified protein used hepoxilin A3 as preferred substrate converting it to trioxilin A3. The enzyme was marginally active toward other epoxides such as leukotriene A4 and styrene oxide. The Mr, pI, and substrate specificity of the hepoxilin epoxide hydrolase indicate that this enzyme is different from the recently reported leukotriene A4 hydrolase from human erythrocytes and rat and human neutrophils and constitutes a hitherto undescribed form of epoxide hydrolase with specificity toward hepoxilin A3. Tissue screening for enzyme activity revealed that this enzyme is ubiquitous in the rat.