A fifth-generation model for receptor/gene-mediated corticosteroid effects was proposed based on results from a 50 mg/kg i.v. bolus dose of methylprednisolone (MPL) in male adrenalectomized rats, and confirmed using data from other acute dosage regimens. Steady-state equations for receptor down-regulation and tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT) enzyme induction patterns were derived. Five groups of male Wistar rats (n = 5/group) were subcutaneously implanted with Alzet mini-pumps primed to release saline or 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, and 0.3 mg/kg/hr of MPL for 7 days. Rats were sacrificed at the end of the infusion. Plasma MPL concentrations, blood lymphocyte counts, and hepatic cytosolic free receptor density, receptor mRNA, TAT mRNA, and TAT enzyme levels were quantitated. The pronounced steroid effects were evidenced by marked losses in body weights and changes in organ weights. All four treatments caused a dose-dependent reduction in hepatic receptor levels, which correlated with the induction of TAT mRNA and TAT enzyme levels. The 7 day receptor mRNA and free receptor density correlated well with the model predicted steady-state levels. However, the extent of enzyme induction was markedly higher than that predicted by the model suggesting that the usual receptor/gene-mediated effects observed upon single/intermittent dosing of MPL may be countered by alterations in other aspects of the system. A mean IC50 of 6.1 ng/mL was estimated for the immunosuppressive effects of methylprednisolone on blood lymphocytes. The extent and duration of steroid exposure play a critical role in mediating steroid effects and advanced PK/PD models provide unique insights into controlling factors.