The pharmacokinetics of cyclosporine was studied in six healthy volunteers after administration of the drug orally (10 mg/kg) and intravenously (3 mg/kg) with and without concomitant rifampin administration. Both blood and plasma (separated at 37 degrees C) samples were analyzed for cyclosporine concentration. For blood and plasma, respectively, clearances of cyclosporine were calculated to be 0.30 and 0.55 L/hr/kg, values for volume of distribution at steady state were 1.31 and 1.68 L/kg, and bioavailabilities were 27% and 33% during the pre-rifampin phase. Post-rifampin phase clearances of cyclosporine were 0.42 and 0.79 L/hr/kg, values for volume of distribution at steady state were 1.36 and 1.35 L/kg, and bioavailabilities were 10% and 9% for blood and plasma, respectively. Rifampin not only induces the hepatic metabolism of cyclosporine but also decreases its bioavailability to a greater extent than would be predicted by the increased metabolism. The decreased bioavailability most probably can be explained by an induction of intestinal cytochrome P450 enzymes, which appears to be markedly greater than the induction of hepatic metabolism.