3-Imine formation between primary amines and 3-oxo-4-ene-steroids, followed by hydrolysis of the imines (either spontaneously during work up or induced by acetic acid) has been shown to cause 6-oxygenation of the steroids tested (17 beta-hydroxy-4-androsten-3-one, 4-androstene-3,17-dione, 4-pregnene-3,20-dione and 4-cholesten-3-one). The main products are the 6 beta-hydroxy- and the 6-oxo-derivatives of the respective steroid. These derivatives were identified by chromatographic mobilities and by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The formation of 6 beta-hydroperoxy-derivatives is suggested and these derivatives were tentatively identified. The highest yields of 6-oxygenated products (30-50%) were found when cadaverine and spermine were reacted with the steroids. The addition of reduced glutathione during hydrolysis of the steroid 3-imines of cadaverine, hexylamine and ethanolamine as well as addition of ascorbic acid during the hydrolysis of the steroid 3-imines of cadaverine substantially reduced the 6-oxygenation. Steroid 3-imine formation and hydrolysis which yields 6-oxygenated derivatives has also been shown to occur during work up (evaporation) of organic solvent extracts of rat liver microsomes (105,000 g sediments) to which 17 beta-hydroxy-4-androsten-3-one, 4-androstene-3,17-dione, 4-pregnene-3,20-dione or 4-cholesten-3-one respectively had been added. It is concluded that there is a risk that these organic reactions are mistaken for enzymatic conversions during in vitro investigations of 3-oxo-4-ene-steroids.