The pregnane X receptor (PXR) (nuclear receptor NR1I2) is a ligand activated transcription factor, mediating responses to diverse xenobiotic and endogenous chemicals. The properties of PXR in fish are not fully understood. Here we report on cloning and characterization of full-length PXR of zebrafish, Danio rerio, and pxr expression in vivo. Initial efforts gave a cDNA encoding a 430 amino acid protein identified as zebrafish pxr by phylogenetic and synteny analysis. The sequence of the cloned Pxr DNA binding domain (DBD) was highly conserved, with 74% identity to human PXR-DBD, while the ligand-binding domain (LBD) of the cloned sequence was only 44% identical to human PXR-LBD. Sequence variation among clones in the initial effort prompted sequencing of multiple clones from a single fish. There were two prominent variants, one sequence with S183, Y218 and H383 and the other with I183, C218 and N383, which we designate as alleles pxr*1 (nr1i2*1) and pxr*2 (nr1i2*2), respectively. In COS-7 cells co-transfected with a PXR-responsive reporter gene, the full-length Pxr*1 (the more common variant) was activated by known PXR agonists clotrimazole and pregnenolone 16?-carbonitrile but to a lesser extent than the full-length human PXR. Activation of full-length Pxr*1 was only 10% of that with the Pxr*1 LBD. Quantitative real time PCR analysis showed prominent expression of pxr in liver and eye, as well as brain and intestine of adult zebrafish. The pxr was expressed in heart and kidney at levels similar to that in intestine. The expression of pxr in liver was weakly induced by ligands for mammalian PXR or constitutive androstane receptor (NR1I3). The results establish a foundation for PXR studies in this vertebrate model. PXR allelic variation and the differences between the full-length PXR and the LBD in reporter assays have implications for assessing the action of PXR ligands in zebrafish.