Abstract Most of the many biological effects of estrogens are mediated via the estrogen receptors ERα and β. The current study examines the role of CYP7B1-mediated catalysis for activation of ER. Several reports suggest that CYP7B1 may be important for hormonal action but previously published studies are contradictory concerning the manner in which CYP7B1 affects ERβ-mediated response. In the current study, we examined effects of several CYP7B1-related steroids on ER activation, using an estrogen response element (ERE) reporter system. Our studies showed significant stimulation of ER by 5-androstene-3β,17β-diol (Aene-diol) and 5α-androstane-3β,17β-diol (3β-Adiol). In contrast, the CYP7B1-formed metabolites from these steroids did not activate the receptor, indicating that CYP7B1-mediated metabolism abolishes the ER-stimulating effect of these compounds. The mRNA level of HEM45, a gene known to be stimulated by estrogens, was strongly up-regulated by Aene-diol but not by its CYP7B1-formed metabolite, further supporting this concept. We did not observe stimulation by dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) or 7α-hydroxy-DHEA, previously suggested to affect ERβ-mediated response. As part of these studies we examined metabolism of Aene-diol in pig liver which is high in CYP7B1 content. These experiments indicate that CYP7B1-mediated metabolism of Aene-diol is of a similar rate as the metabolism of the well-known CYP7B1 substrates DHEA and 3β-Adiol. CYP7B1-mediated metabolism of 3β-Adiol has been proposed to influence ERβ-mediated growth suppression. Our results indicate that Aene-diol also might be important for ER-related pathways. Our data indicate that low concentrations of Aene-diol can trigger ER-mediated response equally well for both ERα and β and that CYP7B1-mediated conversion of Aene-diol into a 7α-hydroxymetabolite will result in loss of action.