Rainbow trout hepatocyte primary culture was used to test the influence of some xenobiotics on the expression of two genes implicated in reproduction, those for the estrogen receptor (ER) and vitellogenin (Vg). We showed that chlordecone, nonylphenol, a polychlorobiphenol (PCB) mixture (Aroclor 1245) and lindane were able to induce ER and Vg mRNA accumulation. Antiestrogens, 4-hydroxytamoxifen and ICI 164,384, prevented the effects of the xenobiotics, indicating that the induction of gene expression is mediated by the ER. Among these four xenobiotics, only chlordecone and nonylphenol were able to displace the binding of [3H]estradiol to ER-enriched COS-1 extracts, and to activate an estrogen-dependent reporter gene (ERE-TK-CAT) cotransfected with an expression vector containing ER cDNA. The results suggest that chlordecone and nonylphenol are direct inducers of rainbow trout ER and Vg gene expression, whereas PCBs and lindane act through their hepatic metabolites. Moreover, pentachlorophenol acts as an antagonist of the induction by estradiol of rainbow trout ER and Vg gene expression.