In a previous study we found that liver mitochondrial side-chain hydroxylation of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and of 5,8-cholestane-3a,7a,12a-triol was higher in female than in male rats [Saarem & Pedersen (1987) Biochem. J. 247, 73-78]. The present paper describes the effects of age, gonadectomy and hypophysectomy on these activites. The sex difference became manifest above the age of 7 weeks. Ovariectomy and/or injection of oestradiol valerate had no effect on the hydroxylase activities in adult females. Castration increased, and subsequent testosterone treatment decreased, the hydroxylase activities in adult males. Hypophysectomy had no effect in females, but increased the hydroxylase activities in males. Testosterone treatment had no effect in hypophysectomized females or males. Injection of oestradiol valerate had no effect on the hydroxylase activities in hypophysectomized females. In hypophysectomized males this treatment had no effect on the vitamin D3 25-hydroxylase activity, but decreased the C27-steroid 27-hydroxylase activity in males. Microsomal la-hydroxyvitamin D3 25-hydroxylase activity was lower in females than in males in all age groups. Castration or hypophysectomy decreased the activity in male rats. It is concluded that, in adult female rats, the mitochondrial side-chain hydroxylation of vitamin D3 and of 5,8-cholestane-3a,7a,12a-triol is independent of sex hormones. In males these activities are regulated by influence of sex hormones on the hypophysis, probably by the presence of androgens in the neonatal period. Different effects on the two hydroxylases indicate the presence of at least two different cytochromes P-450 in rat liver mitochondria.