There is a marked variation between people in the activity of CYP3A4 in liver and intestine. We reasoned that if CYP3A4 was expressed in peripheral blood cells, a simple blood based test of CYP3A4 phenotype might be feasible. We prepared peripheral blood smears from healthy volunteers and performed immunostaining with a rabbit polyclonal antibody that selectively reacts with enzymes within the CYP3A subfamily. Staining was observed only within the cytoplasm of neutrophils (PMNs). cDNA prepared from isolated PMNs and mononuclear cells was subjected the polymerase chain reaction using as primers synthetic oligonucleotides that selectively amplify fragments of each known CYP3A cDNAs (CYP3A3, CYP3A4, CYP3A5, and CYP3A7). Amplification was only obtained with the CYP3A5 specific oligonucleotides, predominantly in PMNs, and the identity of the amplified fragment was confirmed by sequencing. Next, whole white cell homogenate prepared from human blood was reacted on immunoblots with a monoclonal antibody that recognizes all CYP3A proteins or an absorbed polyclonal antibody that recognizes only CYP3A5. Both antibodies recognized a protein in the white cells that comigrated with purified CYP3A5. However, metabolism of midazolam, a substrate of CYP3A, could not be detected in homogenates of isolated granulocytes, in homogenates of the whole WBC fractions, or in incubations with unlysed WBC preparations. We conclude that CYP3A4 is not expressed in peripheral blood and hence a blood phenotyping test for this enzyme will not be feasible. Our discovery that CYP3A5 is present may be important since this enzyme is also present in the liver intestine and kidney of many people.