A new model is proposed to study the kinetics of [3H]cortisol metabolism by using urinary data only. The model consists of 5 pools, in which changes of the fractions of dose are given by a system of 5 ordinary differential equations. After i.v. administration of [3H]cortisol to 8 multiple pituitary deficient (MPD) patients (group I) the urines from each patient were collected in 9-15 portions during the following 3 days. From the urinary data the rate constants of cortisol metabolism were calculated. A published set of urinary data from patients with a normal cortisol metabolism (group II) was used for comparison. The overall half-life of the label in the circulation was 30 min for both groups; the half-life of the label excretion by both groups was 6 h and the time of maximal activity in the main metabolizing pool was 1.8 h in group I and 1.5 h in group II. The 20% of normal cortisol production rate (CPR) in the 8 MPD patients amounted to 7.2 +/- 1.9 mumol/(m2*d). Therefore, the low CPR but normal rate constants, i.e. a normal metabolic clearance rate of cortisol, in the MPD patients suggest a sensitive adjustment of the cortisol response in the target organs.