The assessment of transport properties of 23 drug and natural product molecules was made using the in vitro model based on filter-immobilized artificial membranes (filter-IAM), assembled from phosphatidylcholine in dodecane, in buffer solutions at pH 7.4. Five of the compounds were lactones extracted from the roots of the kava-kava plant. Experiments were designed to test the effects of stirring (0-600 rpm) during assays and the effects of varying the assay times (2-15 h). The highly mobile kava lactones permeated in the order dihydromethisticin (40)>yangonin (37)>kavain (34)>methisticin (32)>desmethoxyyangonin (26), the numbers in parentheses being the measured effective permeabilities in units of 10(-6) cm/s. By comparison, commercial drugs ranked: phenazopyridine (35)>testosterone (19)>propranolol (13)>ketoconazole (6.3)>piroxicam (2.2)>caffeine (1.7)>metoprolol (0.8)>terbutaline (0.01). In addition to permeability measurements, membrane retention of compounds was determined. Yangonin, desmethoxyyangonin, ketoconazole, and phenazopyridine were more than 60% retained by the artificial membranes containing phospholipids. Stirring during assay significantly increased the observed permeabilities for highly mobile molecules, but had minimal impact on the poorly permeable molecules. The influence of hydrogen bonding was explored by determining permeabilities using filters coated with dodecane free of phospholipids. In the filter-IAM method, concentrations were determined by microtitre plate UV spectrophotometry and by LC-MS. Higher-throughput was achieved with direct UV by the use of 96-well microtitre plate formats and with LC-MS by the use of cassette dosing (five-in-one).