The activity to vaporize a /sup 203/Hg compound from /sup 203/HgCl/sub 2/ was demonstrated in crude cell-free extracts of a strain of Escherichia coli W2252, which had acquired the multiple drug resistance. NADPH was essential for the vaporization, while NADH had only a slight stimulating effect and NADP/sup +/ had no effect. The oxidation of NADPH dependent on HgCl/sub 2/ was also demonstrated in the crude extracts, but the HgCl/sub 2/-dependent NADH oxidation could be demonstrated only when a partially purified enzyme preparation was used. The rate of NADH oxidation was much slower than that of NADPH oxidation. It was concluded that NADPH, and to a lesser extent NADH, act as electron donors for the enzymatic reduction of HgCl/sub 2/ and the vaporization occurs after this reduction. This reduction and subsequent vaporization seem to provide a mechanism of resistance to HgCl/sub 2/ in E. coli strains having the multiple drug resistance. 15 references, 4 figures, 4 tables.