Aromatase cytochrome P-450 (P-450AROM) was partially purified from human placental microsomes by hydrophobic affinity chromatography using Phenyl-Sepharose and ion-exchange chromatography on DEAE-cellulose. The resulting preparation had a specific activity of 2 nmol/mg protein with respect to cytochrome P-450 content and displayed a type I difference spectrum upon addition of the substrate androstenedione. When the cytochrome P-450-enriched fractions were subjected to sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and stained with Coomassie blue, there was an enrichment of two proteins having apparent molecular weights of 50,000 and 55,000. The bands containing these proteins were removed from unstained polyacrylamide gels and injected separately or together into three rabbits. An aliquot of the serum or an immunoglobulin (IgG) fraction prepared from the serum of the rabbit injected with the 55-kDa band or with both the 50- and 55-kDa bands inhibited aromatase activity of human placental microsomes by 80%; this IgG had no effect on 17 alpha-hydroxylase or 21-hydroxylase activities of human fetal adrenal microsomes. In contrast, the serum of the rabbit injected with the 50-kDa band had little capacity to inhibit placental aromatase activity. By immunoblot analysis, it was found that the IgG from the serum of the rabbit immunized with the 55-kDa protein bound specifically to a protein of 55 kDa in human placental microsomes. Monoclonal antibodies were prepared from a hybridoma cell line derived from the spleen cells of mice immunized against the 55-kDa protein. The monoclonal IgG was covalently linked to a Sepharose 4B column and was used for immunoaffinity chromatography of cytochrome P-450AROM. The finding that cytochrome P-450 and the 55-kDa protein were selectively retained by the affinity column and eluted with NaCl (2 M) and glycine (0.2 M, pH 3.0) and that this fraction contained aromatase activity upon reconstitution with purified NADPH-cytochrome P-450 reductase and phospholipid, is indicative that the 55-kDa protein is indeed cytochrome P-450AROM. These findings are also indicative that both the monoclonal and polyclonal IgGs are specific for human cytochrome P-450AROM.