Four-month-old female Wistar rats were exposed for 20 days to tobacco smoke obtained from non-filter cigarettes. During the exposure, concentration of tobacco smoke was monitored indirectly by measuring the CO level (1500 mg/m3 air). The efficacy of exposure was assessed by measuring urine nicotine and cotinine levels. Cigarette smoke did not change total cytochrome P450 and b5 protein levels in any of the organs studied, and most of these organs did not show any changes in the activity of reductases associated with these cytochromes. Following exposure to tobacco smoke, fetal rat liver expressed CYP2B1/2 protein; in newborns (day 1) both liver and lung showed CYP2B1/2 protein expression and very low pentoxyresorufin O-dealkylase activity. Western blot analysis of adult liver, lung, heart, but not of brain microsomes, showed that tobacco smoke induced CYP2B1/2 in both nonpregnant and pregnant rats, though its expression was lower in the livers and hearts of pregnant females. In the rat and human placenta, neither rat CYP2B1/2 nor human CYP2B6 showed basal or tobacco smoke-induced expression at the protein level. This study shows clearly that the expression of CYP2B1/2, which metabolizes nicotine and some drugs and activates carcinogens, is controlled in rats by age-, pregnancy-, and tissue-specific regulatory mechanisms.