We examined hepatic cytochrome P450 activity in wild and hand-reared grey partridges (Perdix perdix), capercaillies (Tetrao urogallus) and ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus), as well as the enzyme activity in a variety of tissues of hand-reared Japanese quails (Coturnix coturnix japonica) and pigeons (Columba livia). Post-mortem decrease in hepatic enzyme activity in the grey partridge was measured. Hepatic 7-ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity was similar in wild and hand-reared grey partridges and pheasants, but the activity was significantly lower in wild than in hand-reared capercaillies, probably resulting from their phenolic-rich diet. In the tissues of both quails and pigeons 7-ethoxycoumarin-O-deethylase exhibited the highest and 7-pentoxyresorufin-O-deethylase the lowest activity. Hepatic enzyme activity was significantly higher than that in other tissues. In the small intestine some activity could be found, reflecting some intestinal detoxication capacity. Enzyme activity decreased by 34-69% during the 30-min sampling period, which confirmed the importance of equalising sampling time to obtain comparable data. Because the hand-reared birds in this study were fed the same commercial diets, we assumed that the enzyme activity values detected reflect species differences without any induction by dietary secondary compounds.