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6-Formylindolo[3,2-b]carbazole (FICZ) and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) are ligands of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and bind to the AHR with high affinity. Until recently, TCDD was considered to be the most potent AHR agonist, but several recent studies indicate that FICZ binds with greater affinity to the AHR than TCDD. To advance our understanding of the similarities and differences of the effects of FICZ and TCDD exposure in chicken embryo hepatocyte (CEH) cultures, we compared relative expression changes of 27 dioxin-responsive genes by the use of a chicken PCR array, porphyrin accumulation and ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) activity at different time points. In addition, an egg injection study was performed to assess the effects of FICZ on the developing chicken embryo. The results of the current study showed: (1) mean EROD-derived relative potency values for FICZ compared to TCDD changed as a function of time (i.e. 9, 0.004, 0.0008 and 0.00008 at 3, 8, 24, and 48 h, respectively) in CEH cultures; (2) FICZ exposure did not result in porphyrin accumulation in CEH cultures; (3) concordance between gene expression profiles for FICZ and TCDD was time- and concentration-dependent, and (4) no mortality or morphological abnormalities were observed in chicken embryos injected with 0.87 ng FICZ/g egg into the air cell. The results presented herein suggest that while FICZ and TCDD share similar molecular targets, transient versus sustained AHR activation by FICZ and TCDD result in differential transcriptomic responses. Moreover, rapid metabolism of FICZ in hepatocytes resulted in a significant decrease in the induction of EROD activity.