Polypterus senegalus, the longnose gar Lepisosteus osseus and the bowfin Amia calva had gulonolactone oxidase activity in the kidney and thus can synthesize ascorbic acid de novo. The enzyme activity was associated with the microsomal fraction. The common carp Cyprinus carpio and the goldfish Carassius auratus had no gulonolactone oxidase activity. Antibodies directed against white sturgeon gulonolactone oxidase showed cross-reactivity with lake sturgeon, bowfin and longnose gar kidney enzymes, but not with enzymes from Polypterus, sea lamprey, and tadpole kidney or pig liver. Given cross-reactivity, gulonolactone oxidase relatedness matched actinopterygian phylogeny, and suggested homology of the character throughout fishes. Modern teleosts may have lost the ability to synthesize ascorbic acid since the late Triassic as a result of a single reversal in the founding population. Wild bowfin and longnose gar exhibited high ascorbate concentrations in liver and spleen when compared with the teleosts rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss and common carp fed vitamin C-supplemented diets.