CYP2E is considered the only form of cytochrome P450 responsible for ethanol-mediated increases in acetaminophen hepatotoxicity. However, in experimental systems used for investigating ethanol-mediated increases in acetaminophen hepatotoxicity, animals are withdrawn from ethanol for 16 to 24 hr before the administration of acetaminophen to ensure the clearance of ethanol from the circulation. In rats, CYP2E has been shown to decrease to control levels after this time period of withdrawal from ethanol. We have previously shown in cultured human and rat hepatocytes, and in intact rats, that ethanol induces CYP3A in addition to CYP2E. To determine if there might be a role for CYP3A in ethanol-mediated APAP hepatotoxicity in addition to the recognized role for CYP2E, we investigated the effect of triacetyloleandomycin (TAO) on acetaminophen hepatotoxicity in ethanol-pretreated rats, as well as the effect of 11 hr withdrawal from ethanol on hepatic levels of CYP3A and CYP2E. TAO was dissolved in saline instead of dimethylsulfoxide, the solvent most usually employed, since dimethylsulfoxide inhibits CYP2E. Rats were administered 6.3% ethanol as part of the Lieber-DeCarli diet for 7 days, followed by replacement of the liquid diet with water for 11 hr. This 11-hr withdrawal from ethanol resulted in a decrease in hepatic levels of ethanol-induced CYP2E; however, considerable induction was still evident. There was no significant decrease in CYP3A. TAO completely prevented the histologically observed liver damage from acetaminophen in ethanol-pretreated rats, but did not prevent the increase in serum levels of AST. In ethanol-pretreated rats, exposure to APAP in the absence of TAO was associated with a 75% decrease in CYP3A, compared to animals exposed to APAP in the presence of TAO. These results suggest that CYP3A may have been suicidally inactivated by acetaminophen in the absence of TAO. Our findings suggest that CYP3A has a major role in ethanol-mediated increases in acetaminophen hepatotoxicity.