Cytochrome P-450 (P-450) 2A6 was purified by chromatography of human liver microsomes. The final preparation was electrophoretically homogeneous and contained 16 nmol of P-450/mg of protein. The amino-terminal amino acid sequence of the protein (first 13 residues) matched that of the reported cDNA exactly. The UV-visible spectrum indicated that the isolated hemoprotein was in the low-spin form. The protein was recognized by rabbit antibodies raised against rat P-450 2A1, and a rabbit antiserum against the P-450 2A6 preparation was also prepared. With these antibodies, it was estimated that P-450 2A6 accounted for a maximum of 1% of the total P-450 present in the human liver microsomes; the level varied greater than 100-fold among the 20 samples examined. Purified P-450 2A6 catalyzed coumarin 7-hydroxylation and 7-ethoxycoumarin O-deethylation at rates similar to those measured in the human liver sample used to prepare P-450 2A6, and these two microsomal activities were strongly inhibited by the antibodies. The purified P-450 2A6 enzyme also catalyzed low levels of 4,4'-methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA) N-oxidation and activation of aflatoxin B1, 6-aminochrysene, 2-amino-3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline, and 2-amino-3,5-dimethylimidazo [4,5-f]quinoline to genotoxic products; the antibody inhibited the activity of purified P-450 2A6 towards aflatoxin B1 and 6-aminochrysene but did not inhibit these reactions in human liver microsomes (MOCA N-oxidation was inhibited approximately 20%). Human P-450 2A6 did not catalyze testosterone 7 alpha-hydroxylation, a characteristic activity of the related rat P-450 2A1 protein. These results emphasize the need to characterize individual P-450 enzymes in order to understand their functions in the context of more complex systems.