Polyacrylamide gel isoelectric focusing (PAGE-IEF), cellulose acetate electrophoresis, and histochemical techniques were used to examine the tissue and subcellular distribution, genetics and biochemical properties of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) isozymes in a didelphid marsupial, the gray short-tail opossum (Monodelphis domestica). At least 14 zones of activity were resolved by PAGE-IEF and divided into five isozyme groups and three ALDH classes, based upon comparisons with properties previously reported for human, baboon, rat, and mouse ALDHs. Opossum liver ALDHs were distributed among cytosol (ALDHs 1 and 5) and large granular (mitochondrial) fractions (ALDHs 2 and 5). Similarly, kidney ALDHs were distributed between the cytosol (ALDH5) and the mitochondrial fractions (ALDHs 2, 4, and 5), whereas a major isozyme (ALDH3), found in high activity in cornea, esophagus, ear pinna, tail, and stomach extracts, was localized predominantly in the cytosol fraction. Phenotypic variants of the latter enzyme were shown to be inherited in a normal Mendelian fashion, with two alleles at a single locus (ALDH3) showing codominant expression. The data provided evidence for genetic identity of corneal, ear pinna, tail, and stomach ALDH3 and supported biochemical evidence from other mammalian species that this enzyme has a dimeric subunit structure.