Bisphenol A [BPA; 2,2-bis-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-propane] is a monomer used in the manufacture of resins with a wide range of applications, e.g. plastic coatings in the food packaging industry. BPA has been shown to have a weak oestrogenic activity in vitro and in vivo. Despite its low oestrogenic potency there is concern that, as a consequence of slow clearance, BPA might reach biologically significant levels in humans and animals exposed to environmental levels. To address this concern, we assessed the kinetic behaviour of BPA in female DA/Han rats. Groups of female rats received 10 mg BPA/kg body weight intravenously or 10 or 100 mg BPA/kg body weight orally (by gavage). Blood samples were collected at different time-points and plasma was prepared. Free BPA in the samples was isolated by fluid-fluid extraction. BPA was measured by GC-MS which allowed the reliable determination of BPA concentrations as low as approximately 10 ng/ml plasma. Immediately after i.v. administration, the BPA plasma concentration was in the range of about 15 microg/ml and decreased rapidly within the first hour (to 700 ng/ml). The levels declined further (100 ng/ml at 2 h), and after 24 h the analytical detection limit was reached. BPA was detected in plasma as early as 10 min after gavage administration, indicating rapid initial uptake from the gastrointestinal tract. Absorption of BPA was variable. In animals receiving 10 mg/kg, maximal plasma levels were reached after 1.5 h (31 ng/ ml) and 6 h (40 ng/ml). In animals receiving 100 mg/kg, plasma levels reached maxima around 30 min (150 ng/ml) and 3 h (134 ng/ml) after administration. After 48 h BPA was at or below the detection limit in both dose groups. Fluctuations in the BPA plasma concentrations over time point to the possibility of enterohepatic recirculation and protracted absorption from the gastrointestinal tract. Using the area under the concentration-time curves (AUCs), low bioavailabilities of 16.4% and 5.6% were calculated for the 10 and 100 mg/kg dose groups, respectively. The toxicokinetic properties of BPA in DA/Han rats are in agreement with the hypothesis of a rapid first-pass elimination by the liver and efficient metabolic clearance of low oral doses. Only excessive doses may lead to bioaccumulation if detoxification pathways are saturated.