Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon that causes mutations and tumor formation. Zacco platypus is a sentinel species that is suitable for monitoring aquatic environments. We studied cytochrome P450 system (CYP system) expression and DNA adduct formation in the liver of Z. platypus following waterborne exposure to BaP. The results showed both dose and time dependency. The significant induction levels of CYP system mRNA and protein reached maximums at 2 days and 14 days, respectively, and hepatosomatic index was maximally induced at 4 days during 14 days BaP exposure. DNA adduct formation was significantly induced compared to corresponding controls (t-test, p < 0.01) after 4 days of exposure in 100 μg/L BaP. These results indicate that the only use of mRNA expression level of CYP system as a biomarker make us underestimate prolonged toxicity (4–14 days) of BaP and the only use of protein expression level of CYP system make us underestimate acute toxicity (1–2 days) of BaP. Therefore, we suggests that a combinational use of the mRNA expression level and protein expression level of CYP system, hepatosomatic index is a useful biomarker in risk assessment of waterborne BaP exposure. In addition, DNA adduct formation was a useful biomarker in risk assessment of waterborne BaP exposure at 4 days. CYP1A was a more sensitive biomarker than CYP reductase for BaP exposure when considering both the mRNA and protein level. Furthermore, our results show that Z. platypus is a useful species for assessing the risk of waterborne BaP exposure. 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 29: 1032–1042, 2014.