The physiological disposition of fluvastatin, a potent inhibitor of hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase and thus cholesterol synthesis, has been studied in the mouse, rat, dog, and monkey using 14C- or 3H-labeled drug. Oral doses of fluvastatin were absorbed at a moderate to rapid rate. The extent of absorption was dose-independent and was essentially complete in all four species studied. However, the drug was subject to extensive presystemic hepatic extraction followed by direct excretion via the bile, thus minimizing the systemic burden and yielding high liver/peripheral tissue concentration gradients for fluvastatin and its metabolites. Only at high doses far exceeding the intended human daily dose of ca 0.6 mg kg-1 did fluvastatin bioavailability approach unity, apparently due to saturation of the first-pass effect. Dose-normalized blood levels of fluvastatin and total radioactivity were higher in the dog than in the other species, suggesting a smaller distribution volume in the former. Fluvastatin was partially metabolized before excretion, the extent of metabolism being smallest in the dog and greatest in the mouse. The half-life of intact fluvastatin ranged from 1-2h in the monkey to 4-7h in the dog. Regardless of the dose or dose route, the administered radioactivity was recovered predominantly in feces, with the renal route accounting for less than 8 per cent of the dose. No tissue retention of radioactivity was observed, and material balance was essentially achieved within 96h after dosing.