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We examined metabolic conversion of cysteine into glutathione (GSH) and taurine in rat liver under oxidative stress. Administration of tert-butylhydroperoxide (t-BHP) into the portal vein of male rats resulted in a rapid elevation of serum sorbitol dehydrogenase, alanine aminotransferase, and aspartate aminotransferase activities, which decreased gradually in 24 hr. Hepatic cysteine concentration was reduced in 3 hr, and recovered progressively, reaching a level greater than 200% of the normal value in 24 hr. GSH was increased both in liver and blood at 9 hr after t-BHP challenge, whereas hypotaurine or taurine was not altered. γ-Glutamylcysteine synthetase (GCS) activity was increased from 9 hr after t-BHP treatment, but protein expression of the GCS-heavy subunit was not changed in liver. Activity or expression of cysteine dioxygenase was not affected by t-BHP treatment. Taken together, these data show that an acute oxidant challenge to the rats may induce upregulation of cysteine availability and GCS activity, resulting in an enhancement of hepatic GSH synthesis, but the increased cysteine level does not stimulate taurine synthesis via cysteine sulfinate pathway. It is indicated that the regulation of GSH and taurine biosynthesis from cysteine is not solely dependent on the cysteine concentration in rat liver under oxidative stress.