Cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1) is involved in the bioactivation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons into their reactive epoxide metabolites. CYP1A1 is considered to be important with regard to individual susceptibility to lung cancer since phenotypic and genotypic polymorphisms of CYP1A1 have been associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in a number of studies. We examined here the expression and localization of CYP1A1 mRNA in human lung tissue using in situ hybridization with a CYP1A1-specific RNA probe. A centrilobular expression of CYP1A1 mRNA was observed in the peripheral lung. The expression was intense in bronchiolar epithelium of peripheral lung, especially in terminal cuboidal epithelium. Type II alveolar epithelial cells were also intensely labelled. Type I alveolar epithelial cells and vascular epithelium exhibited binding but the hybridization signals were less intense. Our results are in good agreement with our previous work on immunohistochemical localization of CYP1A protein, in which we used the 1-7-1 MAb that recognizes both CYP1A1 and CYP1A2. In serial sections analyzed with in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, a similar distribution of CYP1A1 mRNA and CYP1A protein was observed. CYP1A1 mRNA is thus expressed in human lungs and the expression is particularly intense in the cell types involved in the development of peripheral lung cancers.