Permanent fish cell lines have become common model systems for determining ecotoxicological effects of pollutants. For these cell lines little is known on the cellular active transport mechanisms that control the amount of a compound entering the cell, such as the MXR (multixenobiotic resistance) system mediated by ATP binding cassette (ABC) transport proteins. Therefore, for toxic evaluation of chemicals with those cells information on MXR is important. We here present data on constitutive mRNA expression and protein activity levels of a series of ABC efflux transporters in seven permanent cell lines derived from liver (RTL-W1; R1) and liver hepatoma (RTH-149), gill (RTgill-W1), gonad (RTG-2), gut (RTgutGC) and brain (RTbrain) of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). In addition to known transporters abcb1 (designated here abcb1a), abcb11, abcc1-3, abcc5 and abcg2, we quantified expression levels of a newly identified abcb1 isoform (abcb1b) and abcc4, previously unknown in trout. Quantitative real time PCR (qPCR) indicated that mRNA of the examined ABC transporters was constitutively expressed in all cell lines. Transporter mRNA expression patterns were similar in all cell lines, with expression levels of abcc transporters being 80 to over 1000 fold higher than for abcg2, abcb1a/b and abcb11 (abcc1-5 > abcg2 > abcb 1a/b, 11). Transporter activity in the cell lines was determined by measuring uptake of transporter type specific fluorescent substrates in the presence of activity inhibitors. The combination of the ABCB1 and ABCC transporter substrate calcein-AM with inhibitors cyclosporine A, PSC833 and MK571 resulted in a concentration-dependent fluorescence increase of up to 3-fold, whereas reversin 205 caused a slight, but not concentration-dependent fluorescence increase. Accumulation of the dyes Hoechst 33342 and 2',7'-dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate was basically unchanged in the presence of Ko134 and taurocholate, respectively, indicating low Abcg2 and Abcb11 activities, in accordance with low abcg2 and abcb1 1 transcript levels. Our data indicate that transporter expression and activity patterns in the different trout cell lines are irrespective of the tissue of origin, but are determined by factors of cell cultivation. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.