MDR1, an ABC transporter that confers multidrug resistance in tumor cells, is constitutively expressed in normal liver canalicular membrane. Human MDR1-expressing multidrug-resistant cells display increased resistance to estradiol-17beta(beta-D-glucuronide) (E217G). MDR1 substrates/modulators inhibit adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-dependent transport of E217G in the rat canalicular membrane and protect against E217G-mediated cholestasis in isolated perfused rat liver. The present studies were designed to determine if E217G is a substrate for MDR1 using a baculovirus expression system and if other estrogen glucuronides interact with MDR1. ATP-dependent transport of E217G (10 micromol/L) was linear for up to 2 minutes and yielded a rate of 45.6 pmol/min/mg protein in membrane vesicles from Sf9 cells infected with MDR1-baculovirus. This transport was saturable (Km = 62 micromol/L) and occurred into an osmotically sensitive space. ATP-dependent transport of E217G (10 micromol/L) was inhibited 63% by 10 micromol/L daunomycin, but not by 100 micromol/L S-(2,4-dinitrophenyl)glutathione (GS-DNP) (a substrate for canalicular multispecific organic anion transporter [cMOAT]). Glucuronide conjugates of the estrogen D-ring (100 micromol/L), estriol-17beta(beta-D-glucuronide) (E317G) and estriol-16(beta-D-glucuronide) (E316G), inhibited MDR1-mediated E217G transport by 58% and 35%, respectively. In contrast, noncholestatic glucuronides, estradiol-3-(beta-D-glucuronide) (E23G) or estradiol-3-sulfate-17beta(beta-D-glucuronide) (E23SO417G), had no effect. E217G neither stimulated MDR1 ATPase activity nor inhibited verapamil-stimulated ATPase activity. Infusion of 1.5 micromol/L doxorubicin or 1 micromol/L taxol protected against cholestasis induced by E316G and E317G in isolated perfused rat liver. These studies identify E217G, and probably E316G and E317G, as endogenous substrates for MDR1.