We examined the steady-state levels of mRNA for gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase (gamma-GCS), multidrug resistance-associated protein (MRP) and human canalicular multispecific organic anion transporter (cMOAT) in human lung cancer specimens to elucidate their roles in relation to platinum drug resistance in vivo. Seventy-six autopsy samples (38 primary tumours and their corresponding normal lung tissues) obtained from 38 patients were analysed using the quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method. Both subunits (heavy and light subunits) of gamma-GCS expression levels of normal lung and tumour tissues exposed to platinum drugs during life were significantly higher than those of non-exposed tissues, whereas only the MRP expression levels of tumours were elevated in association with ante-mortem platinum drug exposure. The gamma-GCS and MRP expression levels correlated significantly. The cMOAT expression levels did not correlate with ante-mortem platinum drug exposure. Next, we monitored gamma-GCS heavy subunit expression levels in peripheral mononuclear cells of eight previously untreated lung cancer patients after platinum drug administration, which revealed that these drugs induced gamma-GCS expression in vivo. These results suggest that gamma-GCS expression is induced by platinum drugs in vivo and/or the physiological stress response to xenobiotics.