The pharmacokinetics of gefitinib and its metabolites in rat and dog were investigated in preclinical studies conducted to support the safety evaluation and clinical development of gefitinib, the first EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor approved for the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer. Following intravenous dosing (5 mg kg(-1), gefitinib plasma half-life was 3-6h in rats and dogs, although studies using a more sensitive HPLC-MS assay produced longer estimates of half-life (7-14h). In these studies, plasma clearance was high (male rat: 25 ml min(-1) kg(-1); female rat: 16 ml min(-1) kg(-1); male dog: 16 ml min(-1) kg(-1)), as was the volume of distribution (8.0-10.41 kg(-1) in rat; 6.31 kg(-1) in dog), and exposure in female rats was double that in males. Following administration of [14C]-gefitinib, concentrations of radioactivity in plasma exceeded gefitinib throughout the profile, indicating the presence of circulating metabolites in both rat and dog. An HPLC-MS assay was developed to measure concentrations of gefitinib and five potential metabolites in plasma. All five metabolites were detected in the rat, but at levels much lower than gefitinib. In the dog, exposure to gefitinib and M523595 was similar, with much lower concentrations of M537194 and only trace levels of the other metabolites. This profile of metabolites is similar to that observed in man.