Five experiments were conducted in male Sprague-Dawley rats regarding the kinetic of urinary excretion of 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OHP) following i.v., oral and dermal exposure to 0.5-50 micromol/kg pyrene either as a single substance or as mixture of various polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Frequent urine collections over 48 h after exposure and a tissue versus time distribution experiment using [14C]pyrene allowed to define the kinetic profile of both pyrene and 1-OHP. For all exposure routes, there is a linear relationship over two orders of magnitude between the dose of pyrene and the urinary excretion of 1-OHP. Differences in biliary/urinary 1-OHP excretion ratio in canulated rats (3) versus faecal/urinary 1-OHP excretion ratio in non-canulated rats (0.6) indicate major enterohepatic recirculation of the metabolite. Half-lives of both pyrene and 1-OHP in all measured tissues were all comprised between 3.1 and 5.4 h, and 5.2-6.7 h, respectively, so that no long term accumulation would be predicted from these values for any tissue. Binary and ternary mixtures involving naphthalene and benzo(a)pyrene in addition to pyrene has no influence on the urinary excretion profile of 1-OHP. All these observations led to the proposal of a dynamic compartment model of pyrene and metabolite flows indicating that following rapid initial distribution to fatty tissues, pyrene is rapidly biotransformed into various metabolites and undergoes major enterohepatic recycling. Part of the initially formed and part of the recirculated 1-OHP eventually undergoes urinary excretion such that close to 60% of pyrene is eliminated as metabolites in urine by 24 h after injection while 20% is excreted in the faeces over the same period.