The goal of this study was to identify excretory routes of three main steroids produced by sexually mature male and female rainbow trout: 17,20 beta-dihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one (17,20 beta-P), sulfated 17,20 beta-P (17,20 beta-P-S), and testosterone glucuronide (TG). Spermiating males or maturing trout were cannulated via the dorsal aorta and urinary bladder and injected with tritiated steroids. Blood, water, and urine were sampled over the next 12 hr when the fish were killed and bile was collected. The identities of the excreted products were determined by anion-exchange chromatography, reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography, enzyme hydrolysis, acid solvolysis, microchemical modification, and thin-layer chromatography. Following the injection of tritiated 17,20 beta-P, 25% of the radioactivity rapidly appeared unmodified in the water; 15% appeared slowly in the urine, mainly as 17,20 beta-P-S; and 40% was recovered in the bile, mainly as 17,20 beta-P-glucuronide. 17,20 beta-P was shown to be released into the water via the gills. Over the 12-hr sampling period, 20% of the 17,20 beta-P released into the water was taken up again by the fish (also branchially). A mathematical analysis showed that 40% of the 17,20 beta-P would have been released into the water in the absence of uptake. Following the injection of tritiated 17,20 beta-P-S, 63% appeared very rapidly, in an unmodified form, in the urine, and 15% was recovered in the bile. Following the injection of tritiated TG, 9% appeared slowly, mainly untransformed, in the urine, and 59% was recovered in the bile. These results show that the three types of steroids are released into the water by three different routes: free steroids, gills; sulfated steroids, urine; and glucuronidated steroids, bile.