We have compared the pharmacokinetics of bolus dose cocaine administration with that of its three most important metabolites; norcocaine, ecgonine methylester, and benzoylecgonine and assessed whether kinetics are dose dependent at two equimolar doses equivalent to cocaine hydrochloride 2.5 and 5 mg/kg respectively. Forty-nine male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into 8 groups to receive i.v. either high (14.7 umol/kg) (HI) or low (7.3 umol/kg) (LO) bolus doses of cocaine or one of its metabolites. Arterial blood samples for cocaine and metabolite analysis were taken repetitively over the next 3 h. Equimolar bolus doses of these congeners showed biexponential plasma concentration decay curves which were fitted to a two compartment model and subjected to noncompartmental analysis. The plasma concentration time profiles were significantly different for the HI and LO doses administered for each congener. The elimination half-lives of cocaine and norcocaine were similar (28-33 min), that for ecgonine methylester (60-71 min) was approximately twice this and for benzoylecgonine was 40-44 min. Cocaine clearance (155-158 ml/kg/min) was found to be in the range found in other rat studies. Ecgonine methylester clearance and benzoylecgonine clearance were found to be one quarter and one eighth of this value respectively. The pharmacokinetic profile of these congeners was not dose dependent when the two doses administered were compared.