Genetic susceptibility factors may play a role in determining adverse effects of exposure to environmental toxins. As a preliminary step to a molecular epidemiological study in a population exposed to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin (TCDD), we investigated 20 healthy Caucasian volunteers with a set of putative susceptibility markers including a CYP1A1 Msp I restriction fragment length genetic polymorphism (RFLP), CYP1A1 mRNA expression, and ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) activity in cultured and mitogen-activated blood lymphocytes. Both basal (p = 0.008) and induced (p = 0.0001) EROD activity was significantly higher among persons with a mutation in one or both alleles of the CYP1A1 gene (variant CYP1A1 genotype). Induction in vitro by TCDD significantly increased EROD activity in both variant and wild-type CYP1A1 subjects; however, the absolute increase was greater in subjects with variant genotypes. An additive interaction between genotype and TCDD induction was suggested. Expression of CYP1A1 mRNA, both basal and induced, did not vary significantly across the genotypes.