Radiometal-labeled antibody fragments are promising reagents for radioimmunotherapy due to their high tumor uptake and rapid pharmacokinetics, but their therapeutic potentials are limited by high uptake and retention in the kidney. Identification of metabolic products is a first step in designing rationale approaches to lower kidney uptake. Previous studies in rats have shown that 111In-labeled DTPA-conjugated antibody fragments (via lysine residues) were degraded to an DTPA-epsilon-amino-lysine derivative and retained in the lysosomal compartments of the liver and kidney [Rogers et al. (1995) Cancer Res. 55, 5714s-5720s]. To determine the metabolic profile of another widely used metal-chelate, [111In]DOTA conjugated to lysines in antibody fragments via active ester chemistry, we analyzed kidney homogenates from nude mice injected with an [111In]DOTA-Fab generated enzymatically from the anti-lymphoma intact antibody Rituxan. The major kidney metabolite was identified as [111In]DOTA-epsilon-amino-lysine by comparison to an authentic synthetic standard. This end product was also identified in the urine, along with relatively small amounts of [111In]DOTA-Fab. Since injection of [111In]DOTA-epsilon-amino-lysine into nude mice resulted in rapid clearance into the urine without kidney retention, it is likely that the renal retention observed was due to kidney uptake of [111In]DOTA-Fab, followed by lysosomal degradation to [111In]DOTA-epsilon-amino-lysine, which is only slowly cleared from this compartment. This observation is supported by autoradiographs of the kidney showing rapid localization of radioactivity into the distal regions of the kidney cortex. To extend this analysis to clinical trials, we have also analyzed urine taken from a patient injected with the intact antibody [111In]DOTA-cT84.66. In that example, we found that the major radioactive species was also [111In]DOTA-epsilon-amino-lysine.