Receptor/gene-mediated effects of corticosteroids on hepatic tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT) were evaluated in normal rats. A group of normal male Wistar rats were injected with 50 mg/kg methylprednisolone (MPL) intramuscularly at the nadir of their plasma corticosterone (CST) rhythm (early light cycle) and sacrificed at various time points up to 96 h post-treatment. Blood and livers were collected to measure plasma MPL, CST, hepatic glucocorticoid receptor (GR) mRNA, cytosolic GR density, TAT mRNA, and TAT activity. The pharmacokinetics of MPL showed bi-exponential disposition with two first-order absorption components from the injection site and bioavailability was 21%. Plasma CST was reduced after MPL dosing, but resumed its daily circadian pattern within 36 h. Cytosolic receptor density was significantly suppressed (90%) and returned to baseline by 72 h resuming its biphasic pattern. Hepatic GR mRNA follows a circadian pattern which was disrupted by MPL and did not return during the study. MPL caused significant down-regulation (50%) in GR mRNA which was followed by a delayed rebound phase (60-70 h). Hepatic TAT mRNA and activity showed up-regulation as a consequence of MPL, and returned to their circadian baseline within 72 and 24 h of treatment. A mechanistic receptor/gene-mediated pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic model was able to satisfactorily describe the complex interplay of exogenous and endogenous corticosteroid effects on hepatic GR mRNA, cytosolic free GR, TAT mRNA, and TAT activity in normal rats.