The ontogeny of intestinal phase I and II xenobiotic metabolising enzymes and influence on susceptibility to genotoxic injury, are unclear. This study assessed expression of cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (CYP1A, CYP2B, CYP2C, CYP3A, CYP4A), glutathione-S-transferase (GSTA1/2, GSTA3, GSTA4, AND GSTM1), and uridine diphosphate glucuronosyl transferase (UGT) in rat intestine, between fetal life and maturity. Enzyme induction and DNA adduct formation were assessed after 3-methylcholanthrene (MC) exposure. Untreated rat intestine expressed CYP2B, GSTA1/2, GSTA4 and UGT at all stages of maturation, although CYP2B and GSTA1/2 increased in postnatal life. MC induced new expression of CYP1A, GSTA3 and enhanced expression of GSTA1/2 and UGT. Age-dependent differences of enzyme induction and DNA adduct formation between pre- and postnatal intestine and during postnatal maturation, were observed. Rat intestinal epithelium shows variable competence for MC metabolism and sustains disparate levels of DNA adducts during pre- and postnatal development.