Abstract Rat lung preparations were analyzed for cytochrome P450 expression as a function of pretreatment with 1 mmol/kg/day of various substituted n-alkyl-methylenedioxybenzenes (MDBs). Lung P450s were quantitated by Western blotting and visualized by immunocytochemical techniques using polyclonal antibodies directed against P450IA1/IA2 and P450IIB1/IIB2. Results demonstrated that n-hexyland n-octyl-MDB (but not n-butyl-MDB) increased P450IA1 in lung microsomes (50 pmol/mg microsomal protein) compared to untreated controls and n-butyl-MDB-treated animals (6 pmol/mg). However, treatment with all of these MDBs concomitantly decreased P450IIB1 in rat lung microsomes, from 40 pmol/mg in untreated control lungs to below the detection limit of this method (<2 pmol/mg). In vitro metabolism assays with rat lung microsomes, utilizing 7,12-dimethylbenz[ a]anthracene as substrate, confirmed the increase in P450IA1 by selected MDBs and the concomitant decrease of catalytically active P450IIB1. Immunocytochemistry of rat lungs with these same IgGs indicated selective cellular responses. n-Hexyl-MDB (but not n-butyl-MDB) increased P450IA1-like immunoreactivity, but the increase was specifically localized to Clara cells. Immunocytochemical results further showed that P450IIB1-like immunoreactivity disappeared entirely from alveolar type II cells, yet appeared unchanged in Clara cells relative to untreated controls. Increases in P450IA1 due to treatment with n-hexyl-MDB were associated with increases in P450IA1 mRNA as indicated by Northern blot experiments. In contrast, the decreased levels of P450IIB1, consequent to treatment with n-alkyl-MDBs, were not associated with altered levels of pulmonary P450IIB1 mRNA as determined by Northern blotting and solution hybridization assays. These results imply that n-alkyl-MDBs regulate pulmonary cytochromes P450 by both transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms.