The metabolism of methenolone acetate (17 beta-acetoxy-1-methyl-5 alpha-androst-1-en-3-one), a synthetic anabolic steroid, has been investigated in man. After oral administration of a 50 mg dose of the steroid to two male volunteers, twelve metabolites were detected in urine either in the glucuronide, sulfate or free steroid fractions. Methenolone, the parent steroid was detected in urine until 90 h after administration. Its cumulative urinary excretion accounted for 1.63% of the ingested dose. With the exception of 3 alpha-hydroxy-1-methylen-5 alpha-androstan-17-one, the major biotransformation product of methonolone acetate, metabolites were excreted in urine at lower levels, through minor metabolic routes. Most of methenolone acetate metabolites were isolated from the glucuronic acid fraction, namely methenolone, 3 alpha-hydroxy-1-methylen-5 alpha-androstan-17-one, 3 alpha-hydroxy-1 alpha-methyl-5 alpha-androstan-17-one, 17-epimethenolone, 3 alpha,6 beta-dihydroxy-1-methylen-5 alpha-androstan-17-one, 2 xi-hydroxy-1-methylen-5 alpha-androstan-3,17-dione, 6 beta-hydroxy-1-methyl-5 alpha-androst-1-en-3,17-dione, 16 alpha-hydroxy-1-methyl-5 alpha-androst-1-en-3,17-dione and 3 alpha,16 alpha-dihydroxy-1-methyl-5 alpha-androst-1-en-17-one. Interestingly, the metabolites detected in the sulfate fraction were isomeric steroids bearing a 16 alpha- or a 16 beta-hydroxyl group, whereas 1-methyl-5 alpha-androst-1-en-3,17-dione was the sole metabolite isolated from the free steroid fraction. Steroids identity was assigned on the basis of the mass spectral features of their TMS ether, TMS enol-TMS ether, MO-TMS, and d9-TMS ether derivatives and by comparison with reference and structurally related steroids. The data indicated that methenolone acetate was metabolized into several compounds resulting from oxidation of the 17-hydroxyl group and reduction of A-ring substituents, with or without concomitant hydroxylation at the C6 and C16 positions.