Abstract The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon phenanthrene was converted mainly (>90%) to the 1,2-dihydrodiol when metabolized in vivo by the marine teleost cod. This is also found in other bony fishes, but contrary to what is known from cartilaginous fish, crustaceans and mammals, where the K-region 9,10-dihydrodiol is the main metabolite. When liver microsomal preparations from differently pretreated cod were incubated with phenanthrene in vitro, the metabolic profile was dramatically different from the in vivo pattern, as shown by gas chromatography—mass spectrometry. The microsomes from untreated, phenanthrene, phenobarbital and pregnenolone-16α-carbonitrile-treated cod converted phenanthrene mainly, but to a varying extent, to the 9,10-dihydrodiol. Treatment with β-naphthoflavone (BNF), however, resulted in a large increase in the oxidation at the 1,2-position, along with a four- to seven-fold increase in specific activity. The major cytochrome P-450 isozyme purified from BNF-treated cod liver ( P-450 c) showed highest activity with phenanthrene (a turnover of 0.18 nmol/min per nmol P-450), but with about equal selectivity for the 1,2- and 9,10-region of the substrate in a reconstituted system with phospholipid and NADPH-cytochrome P-450 reductase. The low regioselectivity was also observed as a lack of regioselective inhibition of microsomal phenanthrene metabolism with antiserum to cod P-450 c. Two of the minor isozymes, cod cytochromes P-450 b and d, showed a similar turnover to P-450 c, but with a stronger selectivity for the 1,2-position (55–60%). The results indicate that other control systems, in addition to the content of individual P-450-forms in the regulatory systems, in addition to the content of individual P-450-forms in the endoplasmic reticulum, are involved in the in vivo transformation of phenanthrene by cod to the 1,2-dihydrodiol metabolite.