It is possible that some orally administered citrate may appear in urine by escaping oxidation in vivo. To determine whether this mechanism contributes to the citraturic response to potassium citrate, we measured serum and urinary citrate for 4 hours after a single oral load of citric acid (40 mEq.) in 6 normal subjects. Since citric acid does not alter acid-base balance, the effect of absorbed citrate could be isolated from that of alkali load. Serum citrate concentration increased significantly (p less than 0.05) 30 minutes after a single oral dose of citric acid and remained significantly elevated for 3 hours after citric acid load. Commensurate with this change, urinary citrate excretion peaked at 2 hours and gradually decreased during the next 2 hours after citric acid load. In contrast, serum and urinary citrate remained unaltered following the control load (no drug). Differences of the citratemic and citraturic effects between phases were significant (p less than 0.05) at 2 and 3 hours. Urinary pH, carbon dioxide pressure, bicarbonate, total carbon dioxide and ammonium did not change at any time after citric acid load, and did not differ between the 2 phases. No significant difference was noted in serum electrolytes, arterialized venous pH and carbon dioxide pressure at any time after citric acid load and between the 2 phases. Thus, the citraturic and citratemic effects of oral citric acid are largely accountable by provision of absorbed citrate, which has escaped in vivo degradation.