Qualitative and quantitative differences of purified hepatic 3 alpha-hydroxysteroid UDP-glucuronosyltransferase were investigated in Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats. Individual differences in the glucuronidation rate of androsterone and chenodeoxycholic acid were observed in hepatic microsomal fractions from Wistar but not Sprague-Dawley rats. No individual variation was observed in the glucuronidation of testosterone, p-nitrophenol or oestrone. The 3 alpha-hydroxysteroid UDP-glucuronosyltransferases from livers of Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats were isolated and highly purified by using Chromatofocusing and affinity chromatography. The amount of 3 alpha-hydroxysteroid UDP-glucuronosyltransferase in the liver of Wistar rats exhibiting low rates for androsterone glucuronidation is about 10% or less than that found in hepatic microsomal fractions obtained from Wistar rats having high rates for androsterone glucuronidation. The apparent Km for androsterone with purified 3 alpha-hydroxysteroid UDP-glucuronosyltransferase from Wistar rats with high glucuronidation activity (6 microM) was not different from that observed for the enzyme purified from Sprague-Dawley animals, whereas that for the enzyme purified from Wistar rats with low glucuronidation activity was substantially higher (120 microM). Despite the differences in apparent Km values for androsterone, the apparent Km for UDP-glucuronic acid (0.3 mM) was not different in the different populations of rats.