2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) is a highly toxic and persistent organic pollutant, which is ubiquitously found in the environment. The prototype dioxin compound was classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. TCDD acts as a potent liver tumor promoter in rats, which is one of the major concerns related to TCDD exposure. There is extensive evidence, that TCDD exerts anti-estrogenic effects via arylhydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-mediated induction of cytochromes P450 and interferes with the estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha)-mediated signaling pathway. The present work was conducted to shed light on the hypothesis that enhanced activation of estradiol metabolism by TCDD-induced enzymes, mainly CYP1A1 and CYP1B1, leads to oxidative DNA damage in liver cells. Furthermore, the possible modulation by 17beta-estradiol (E2) was investigated. The effects were examined using four different AhR-responsive species- and sex-specific liver cell models, rat H4II2 and human HepG2 hepatoma cell lines as well as rat primary hepatocytes from male and female Wistar rats. The effective induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 by TCDD was demonstrated in all liver cell models. Basal and TCDD-induced expression of CYP1B1, which is a key enzyme in stimulating E2 metabolism via the more reactive formation of the genotoxic 4-hydroxyestradiol, was most pronounced in rat primary hepatocytes. CYP-dependent induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was only observed in rodent cells. E2 induced ROS only in primary rat hepatocytes, which was associated with a weak CYP1B1 mRNA induction. Thus, E2 itself was suggested to induce its own metabolism in primary rat hepatocytes, resulting in the redox cycling of catechol estradiol metabolites leading to ROS formation. In this study the role of TCDD and E2 on oxidative DNA damage was investigated for the first time in vitro in the comet assay using liver cells. Both TCDD and E2 were shown to induce oxidative DNA base modifications only in rat hepatocytes. Additionally, direct oxidative DNA-damaging effects of the two main E2 metabolites, 4-hydroxyestradiol and 2-hydroxyestradiol, were only observed in rat hepatocytes and revealed that E2 damaged the DNA to the same extent. However, the induction of oxidative DNA damage by E2 could not completely be explained by the metabolic conversion of E2 via CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 and has to be further investigated. The expression of low levels of endogenous ERalpha mRNA in primary rat hepatocytes and the lack of ERalpha in hepatoma cell lines were identified as crucial. Therefore, the effects of interference of ERalpha with AhR were examined in HepG2 cells, which were transiently transfected with ERalpha. The over-expression of ERalpha led to enhanced AhR-mediated transcriptional activity by E2, suggesting a possible regulation of E2 levels. In turn, TCDD reduced E2-mediated ERalpha signaling, confirming the anti-estrogenic action of TCDD. Such a modulation of the combined effects of TCDD with E2 was not observed in any of the other experiments. Thus, the role of low endogenous ERalpha levels has to be further investigated in transfection experiments using rat primary hepatocytes. Overall, rat primary hepatocyte culture turned out to be the more adaptive cell model to investigate metabolism in the liver, reflecting a more realistic situation of the liver tissue. Nevertheless, during this work a crosstalk between ERalpha and AhR was shown for the first time using human hepatoma cell line HepG2 by transiently transfecting ERalpha.