The effects of meals and meal composition on the bioavailability of fenretinide, N-(4-hydroxyphenyl) retinamide, a synthetic retinoid undergoing clinical trials, were examined in two separate studies using an open, randomized, crossover design. In the first study, 13 healthy male volunteers received 300-mg doses of fenretinide (1) while fasting and (2) after a high-fat breakfast. In a subsequent study, 15 subjects received 300 mg fenretinide after each of three different test meals (high-fat, high-protein, and high-carbohydrate) separated by a 1-week washout period. Plasma specimens obtained over a 72-hour period after each treatment were assayed by high-pressure liquid chromatography to characterize the effects of a meal and meal composition on the bioavailability of fenretinide. Results from the initial study demonstrated a significant increase in the bioavailability of fenretinide after a high-fat meal. In the follow-up study, the bioavailability of fenretinide, as assessed by total area under the plasma concentration curve, was three times greater after the high-fat meal than after the high-carbohydrate meal. This supported the findings of the first study. Although to a lesser extent, the high-protein meal also produced a greater area under the curve than the high-carbohydrate meal. These combined findings demonstrate that the bioavailability of fenretinide is markedly influenced not only by administration with meals but also by the specific composition of such meals.