Cytochrome P450-dependent monooxygenases (CYPs) are involved in the metabolic defence against xenobiotics. Human CYP3A enzymes metabolise about 50% of all pharmaceuticals in use today. Induction of CYPs and associated xenobiotic metabolism occurs also in fish and may serve as a useful tool for biomonitoring of environmental contamination. In this study we report on the cloning of a CYP3A family gene from fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas), which has been designated as CYP3A126 by the P450 nomenclature committee (GenBank no. EU332792). The cDNA was isolated, identified and characterised by extended inverse polymerase chain reaction (PCR), an alternative to the commonly used method of rapid amplification of cDNA ends. In a fathead minnow cell line we identified a full-length cDNA sequence (1,863 base pairs (bp)) consisting of a 1,536 bp open reading frame encoding a 512 amino acid protein. Genomic analysis of the identified CYP3A isoenzyme revealed a DNA sequence consisting of 13 exons and 12 introns. CYP3A126 is also expressed in fathead minnow liver as demonstrated by reverse transcription PCR. Exposure of fathead minnow (FHM) cells with the CYP3A inducer rifampicin leads to dose-dependent increase in putative CYP3A enzyme activity. In contrast, inhibitory effects of diazepam treatment were observed on putative CYP3A enzyme activity and additionally on CYP3A126 mRNA expression. This indicates that CYP3A is active in FHM cells and that CYP3A126 is at least in part responsible for this CYP3A activity. Further investigations will show whether CYP3A126 is involved in the metabolism of environmental chemicals.