Disposition and metabolism of [carbonyl-14C]sparfloxacin SPFX, 5-amino-1-cyclopropyl-7-(cis-3,5-dimethyl-1-piperazinyl)-6,8-difluoro- 1,4-dihydro-4-oxoquinoline-3-carboxylic acid, AT-4140; CAS 110871-86-8), a novel antimicrobial quinolone, were studied in rats mainly after oral administration at 10 mg/kg. SPFX was absorbed from the whole area of small intestine as shown by the loop method. The extent of absorption was around 70% when estimated by AUC, urinary excretion and biliary excretion. Plasma level of radioactivity reached Cmax of 1.32 micrograms eq/ml within 1 h after oral administration and decreased with a half-life of about 4 h. Higher levels of radioactivity than that in plasma were seen in kidney, liver, submaxillary gland, lung, trachea and many other tissues and lower levels, in eye ball, brain and some others. Most tissue levels decreased with time essentially in parallel with plasma level. In pregnant rats, levels of fetal radioactivity amounted to about 60% of maternal plasma level. In lactating rats, milk was found to contain radioactivity several times as high as plasma level, which decreased with a similar half-life. SPFX was bound to plasma protein, mainly to albumin, at about 40%. Unchanged SPFX and its glucuronide were found in the plasma, milk, bile and urine. Within 48 h, about half of the dosed radioactivity was excreted in the bile, and part of which was re-absorbed. Within 96 h, about 20 and 80% of dose were found in the urine and feces, respectively.