The pharmacokinetics of IV meropenem (500 mg over 30 min) has been studied in 6 healthy volunteers and 26 patients with various degrees of renal impairment. Blood samples were taken at different times over 24 h in healthy subjects and 36 to 48 h in uraemic patients, and four or five urine samples were collected over 24 or 48 h. Meropenem concentrations in plasma and urine were measured by a microbiological assay. The mean peak plasma concentration of meropenem ranged from 28 to 40 micrograms.ml-1 and was not affected by the degree of renal impairment. The terminal half-life of meropenem was approximately 1 h in subjects with normal kidney function and it was proportionately increased as renal function decreased. A significant linear relationship between total body clearance and creatinine clearance as well as between renal clearance and creatinine clearance was observed. The mean apparent volume of distribution at steady state was not significantly altered in uraemic patients. The mean cumulative urinary recovery of meropenem in healthy volunteers was 77% of the administered dose and it was significantly decreased in patients with renal impairment. Haemodialysis shortened the elimination half-life, from 9.7 h during the predialysis period to 1.4 h during the dialysis period. The dose of meropenem should be reduced in relation to the decrease in creatinine clearance.