The onset, intensity and duration of therapeutic response to a compound depend on the intrinsic pharmacological activity of the drug and pharmacokinetic factors related to its absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination that are inherent to the biological system. The process of drug transfer from the site of administration to the systemic circulation and the interspecies factors that impact this process are the scope of this review. In general, the factors that influence oral drug bioavailability via absorption and metabolism can be divided into physicochemical/biopharmaceutical and physiological factors. Physicochemical and biopharmaceutical factors that influence permeability and solubility tend to be species independent. Although there are significant differences in the anatomy and physiology of the gastrointestinal tract, these are not associated with significant differences in the rate and extent of drug absorption between rats and humans. However, species differences in drug metabolism in rats and humans did result in significant species differences in bioavailability. Overall, this review provides a better understanding of the interplay between drug physicochemical/biopharmaceutical factors and species differences/similarities in the absorption and metabolism mechanisms that affect oral bioavailability in rats and humans. This will enable a more rational approach to perform projection of oral bioavailability in human using available rat in vivo data.