The objective of this work is to examine the possible modulation of carcinogen metabolism (activation by cytochrome P450s and detoxification by conjugation via glutathione S-transferases [GST]) in relation to hepatitis B virus (HBV)-associated liver injury. In HBV transgenic mouse lineage 107.5, the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is expressed at noncytopathic concentrations but after injection of an HBsAg-specific, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I restricted cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) clone, the mice develop a severe acute necroinflammatory liver disease that reaches maximum severity within 3 days and gradually subsides during the next 2 to 3 weeks. In this model, using immunohistochemical analysis, we observed an increase of P450s (CYP1A and 2A5), both involved in aflatoxin B1, metabolism, but minor changes or no changes for others (2B, 2C, 2E, 3A). There was a fivefold decrease in the total liver P450 microsomal content 3 days' post-CTL injection with the result that the relative proportion of CYP2A5 and 1A compared with other P450s is increased. Individual microsomal P450 enzyme contents estimated by Western blotting; Northern blot analysis of liver CYP messenger RNA (mRNA) levels as well as in vitro metabolism of specific substrates for different P450 isoenzymes were consistent with the immunohistochemical data. Immunohistochemical staining with antibodies to cytosolic pi class GST was increased 1 and 3 days postinjection followed by a progressive decrease at later time points (the same phenomenon was observed to a lesser extent for GST alpha). The activity of hepatic cytosols toward substrates specific for different subclasses of GST (mu, pi, alpha) showed that while GST mu was not changed in the CTL-injected HBV transgenic mice, GST pi and, to a lesser extent, alpha were increased as compared with controls. These results suggest that liver cell injury induced by a process of acute fulminant-like hepatitis can lead to the induction of some carcinogen metabolizing enzymes notably, Cyp 1A, 2A5 and GST pi in the mouse.