The aim of the present study was to examine a recent proposal that inhibitory isozyme:isozyme interactions explain why membrane-bound isozymes of rat liver microsomal cytochrome P-450 exert only a fraction of the catalytic activity they express when purified and reconstituted with saturating amounts of NADPH-cytochrome P-450 reductase and optimal amounts of dilauroylphosphatidylcholine. The different pathways of testosterone hydroxylation catalyzed by cytochromes P-450a (7 alpha-hydroxylation), P-450b (16 beta-hydroxylation), and P-450c (6 beta-hydroxylation) enabled possible inhibitory interactions between these isozymes to be investigated simultaneously with a single substrate. No loss of catalytic activity was observed when purified cytochromes P-450a, P-450b, or P-450c were reconstituted in binary or ternary mixtures under a variety of incubation conditions. When purified cytochromes P-450a, P-450b, and P-450c were reconstituted under conditions that mimicked a microsomal system (with respect to the absolute concentration of both the individual cytochrome P-450 isozyme and NADPH-cytochrome P-450 reductase), their catalytic activity was actually less (69-81%) than that of the microsomal isozymes. These results established that cytochromes P-450a, P-450b, and P-450c were not inhibited by each other, nor by any of the other isozymes in the liver microsomal preparation. Incorporation of purified NADPH-cytochrome P-450 reductase into liver microsomes from Aroclor 1254-induced rats stimulated the catalytic activity of cytochromes P-450a, P-450b, and P-450c. Similarly, purified cytochromes P-450a, P-450b, and P-450c expressed increased catalytic activity in a reconstituted system only when the ratio of NADPH-cytochrome P-450 reductase to cytochrome P-450 exceeded that normally found in liver microsomes. These results indicate that the inhibitory cytochrome P-450 isozyme:isozyme interactions described for warfarin hydroxylation were not observed when testosterone was the substrate. In addition to establishing that inhibitory interactions between different cytochrome P-450 isozymes is not a general phenomenon, the results of the present study support a simple mass action model for the interaction between membrane-bound or purified cytochrome P-450 and NADPH-cytochrome P-450 reductase during the hydroxylation of testosterone.