Characterization of cytochrome P450 1A1 dependent monooxygenases in guinea pig heart revealed low rates of 7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylation, which are markedly increased (20-fold) by treatment with beta-naphthoflavone, a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. Both 7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylation and 7-methoxyresorufin O-demethylation were found to be approximately 4-fold higher in microsomes prepared from the ventricle than the atrium of beta-naphthoflavone-induced guinea pigs. The low rates of 7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylation in cardiac microsomes were due, at least in part, to a deficiency of the flavoprotein NADPH--cytochrome P450 reductase; addition of exogenous NADPH--cytochrome P450 reductase; addition of exogenous NADPH--cytochrome P450 reductase dramatically increased 7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylation in cardiac microsomes of guinea pigs, before and after treatment with beta-naphthoflavone. N-Benzyl-1-aminobenzotriazole, a suicide substrate of cytochrome P450 1A1 in guinea pig, was able to inhibit almost all of the 7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase and 7-methoxyresorufin O-demethylase activities in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon induced guinea pig heart (88 and 71%, respectively), suggesting that cytochrome P450 1A1 coupled to NADPH--cytochrome P450 reductase in these microsomes inactivates itself by a suicidal mechanism. Addition of alpha-naphthoflavone, an inhibitor of cytochrome P450 1A isozymes, to cardiac microsomes from beta-naphthoflavone-induced guinea pigs resulted in greater than 95% inhibition of 7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase activity. The biological significance of these low levels of cytochrome P450 1A1 monooxygenase activity in guinea pig heart and their induction by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are not currently understood.