Acetaldehyde, the first product of alcohol metabolism, is highly reactive. Several proteins have been shown to be covalently modified by acetaldehyde in vivo. We have previously reported the detection of a cytosolic 37-kd protein-acetaldehyde adduct (-AA) in the liver of alcohol-fed rats. The liver extract from an alcohol-fed rat was subjected to 2-dimensional (2D) sodium dodecylsulfate (SDS)-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE), transferred to polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) membrane, and the 37-kd protein-AA spot was digested with trypsin and sequenced for amino acids. Degenerate oligonucleotides corresponding to a peptide sequence of the protein-AA were used as the probe to screen a λ gt11 rat liver complementary DNA (cDNA) library. A clone that extended to a potential ATG start codon was identified. The open reading frame was 978 nucleotides long, encoding 326 amino acid residues. The sequence matched that of rat liver Δ 4-3-ketosteroid 5β-reductase. The cloned cDNA was expressed in Escherichia coli using pGEX-KG as the vector. The expressed protein was found to be of correct molecular weight. It reacted with an antibody that recognized the unmodified liver 37-kd protein by Western blotting. Peptide profiles of tryptic- digested recombinant protein and the purified rat liver 37-kd protein were similar and yielded the same peptide sequence. Δ 4-3-ketosteroid 5β-reductase catalyzes the reduction of key intermediates during bile acid biosynthesis. Whether modification of the 5β-reductase by acetaldehyde affects the enzyme activity and bile acid synthesis remains to be studied.