Earlier work has shown that the 21-hydroxylation of progesterone in the hepatic microsomal fraction of outbred New Zealand White rabbits varies over a 10-fold range. To determine whether the differences in 21-hydroxylase activity were due to a transient inductive effect, livers from a group of 28 rabbits were serially biopsied at least three times over a minimum period of two months. Both progesterone 21- and 16 alpha-hydroxylase activities were determined in the post-8700g supernatant of homogenates prepared from these biopsy samples. A substantial variability in both the 21- and 16 alpha-hydroxylase activity was observed for serial biopsy samples from individual rabbits. Each animal was found, however, to maintain relatively constant ratios of 21/16 alpha-hydroxylase activity throughout the course of the study. Previous studies have indicated that the 21-hydroxylase activity does not correlate with the 16 alpha-hydroxylase activity and that the 21-hydroxylase phenotype could be determined from the ratio of these activities. On the basis of this ratio, two groups of animals could be distinguished in the present study. Approximately 25% of the animals exhibited an elevated 21/16 alpha-hydroxylase ratio (greater than 1.5), the remainder were below this level. Furthermore, the expression of elevated levels of the 21-hydroxylase activity were found to be consistent within this subpopulation suggesting that a transient inductive effect is not responsible for the differences in 21-hydroxylase activity among populations of outbred New Zealand White rabbits. This study demonstrates the determination of the hepatic enzymatic phenotype while maintaining the animal for long periods of time and for subsequent investigations.