Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as probable human carcinogens. A subset of PCBs are described as 'dioxin like' because of similarities to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. Dioxin-like PCBs have been shown to tightly bind the active site of cytochrome P450 (CYP) 1A isoforms, primarily CYP1A1, resulting in inhibition of CYP activity and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as a result of uncoupling of the catalytic cycle. Human CYP1B1 (hCYP1B1) is an extrahepatic CYP closely related to hCYP1A1 and is overexpressed in the lungs of smokers. Moreover, hCYP1B1 has been found to be overexpressed in cancers derived from a number of tissue types, as well as in pre-malignant prostate tumours, implicating overexpression of hCYP1B1 as a risk factor for extrahepatic carcinogenesis. It has been demonstrated previously that hCYP1B1 is inhibited by dioxin-like PCBs, but whether or not it is uncoupled has not been investigated. In the current study, the ability of three dioxin-like PCBs 3,3',4,4'-tetrachlorobiphenyl, 3,3',4,4',5-pentachlorobiphenyl and 3,3',4,4',5,5'-hexachlorobiphenyl (PCB169) to inhibit hCYP1B1 and stimulate the formation of ROS in V79MZ cells (which lack endogenous CYPs) expressing hCYP1B1 was demonstrated. Moreover, the generation of ROS was also associated with increases in parameters of oxidative stress related to genotoxicity (DNA oxidation and lipid peroxidation). For PCB169, these effects were time and concentration dependent. These data identify a novel mechanism of genotoxicity for dioxin-like PCBs, as well as providing further evidence that overexpression of hCYP1B1 is a risk factor for extrahepatic carcinogenesis.