1. Cholesteryl 3beta-sulphate is oxidized in vitro by preparations of bovine adrenal-cortex mitochondria to pregnenolone sulphate and isocaproic acid (4-methyl-pentanoic acid) without hydrolysis of the ester linkage. 2. Free cholesterol is the preferred substrate for adrenal-cortex cholesterol oxidase; the apparent K(m) for cholesteryl sulphate is 500mum and for free cholesterol 50mum under the same conditions. 3. Cholesteryl 3beta-acetate is hydrolysed by bovine adrenal-cortex mitochondria in vitro to free cholesterol, which is subsequently oxidized to more polar steroids and isocaproic acid. Evidence was obtained that other cholesterol esters behave similarly. Cholesterol esters may thus act as precursors of steroid hormones. 4. Cholest-4-en-3-one is only poorly oxidized to isocaproic acid and more polar steroids and thus is probably not a significant precursor of steroid hormones. 5. Cholesteryl esters inhibit the oxidation of cholesterol competitively (K(i) for cholesteryl phosphate 28mum, for cholesteryl sulphate 110mum, for cholesteryl acetate 65mum) but pregnenolone esters do not inhibit this system. 6. Pregnenolone and 20alpha-hydroxycholesterol (both metabolites of cholesterol in this system) inhibit the oxidation of cholesterol non-competitively. K(i) for pregnenolone is 130mum and K(i) for 20alpha-hydroxycholesterol is 17mum. 7. 25-Oxo-27-norcholesterol inhibits cholesterol oxidation non-competitively (K(i)16mum). A number of other Delta(5)-3beta-hydroxy steroids inhibit cholesterol oxidation and evidence was obtained that the 3beta-hydroxyl group was necessary for inhibitory activity. 8. Pregnenolone, 20alpha-hydroxycholesterol and 25-oxo-27-norcholesterol inhibit oxidation of cholesteryl sulphate by this system but their sulphates do not. 9. 3beta-Hydroxychol-5-enoic acid, 3alpha-hydroxy-5beta-cholanic acid and 3beta-hydroxy-22,23-bisnorchol-5-enoic acid stimulated formation of isocaproic acid from cholesterol. 10. No evidence was obtained that phosphorylation or sulphation are obligatory steps in cholesterol oxidation by adrenal-cortex mitochondria. 11. The cholesteryl 3beta-sulphate sulphatase of bovine adrenal cortex was found mostly in the microsomal fraction and was inhibited by inorganic phosphate.

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