Enzymes within the CYP3A subfamily are major Phase I drug-metabolizing enzymes present in hepatocytes and small bowel enterocytes. These enzymes are highly inducible in the liver by many structurally diverse compounds, including a number of commonly used medications. Studies indicate that CYP3A enzymes present in small bowel enterocytes are also inducible. However, the regulation of CYP3A enzymes in this tissue has not been well characterized, in part because in vivo studies are difficult, especially in humans. Our goals was to develop an in vitro model to study the regulation of CYP3A in enterocytes. To this end, we defined culture conditions under which adult rat jejunal explants maintained viable appearing villi for 21 hr. When dexamethasone, the prototypical inducer of CYP3A1 in rat hepatocytes, was added to the culture medium, there was a time-dependent induction of CYP3A1 mRNA and CYP3A protein in explant enterocytes which was essentially indistinguishable from the time course of induction of CYP3A1 mRNA and protein in enterocytes in vivo. This effect of dexamethasone appeared to be specific since dexamethasone had no consistent effect on the explant concentration of another enterocyte specific mRNA, intestinal fatty acid binding protein. Using this explant culture model, we found that CYP3A1 mRNA was also inducible by clotrimazole but we were unable to detect induction by rifampicin or troleandomycin. Our observations suggest that jejunal explants may provide an appropriate model for the study of the regulation of CYP3A and other drug-metabolizing enzymes.