Mivacurium chloride (BW B1090U) is a new, short-acting non-depolarizing neuromuscular blocking agent. It is a synthetic bis-benzylisoquinolinium diester, which is hydrolysed rapidly by plasma cholinesterase. This study compares mivacurium, atracurium and vecuronium by continuous i.v. infusion. The duration of mivacurium infusion ranged from 29.5 to 286 min. The steady state infusion rates necessary to maintain 95 (SEM 4)% twitch suppression were: mivacurium 8.3 (0.7) micrograms kg-1 min-1; atracurium 7.9 (0.4) micrograms kg-1 min-1; vecuronium 1.2 (0.3) micrograms kg-1 min-1. Following infusions of mivacurium, various recovery times (for example: 25-75%, 6.9 (0.3) min; 25-95%, 11.0 (0.4) min; 5-95% 14.5 (0.4) min) did not differ significantly from those following single bolus doses. Recovery times following cessation of mivacarium infusions were approximately 50% of those for equivalent durations of infusion of atracurium (10.9 (0.3) min for 25-75% recovery and 26.6 (0.4) min for 5-95% recovery). For vecuronium, corresponding recovery times were 13.8 (0.9) and 32.0 (1.2) min, respectively. Comparative recovery times for mivacurium were 40-50% of those for vecuronium. There was a significant correlation between the infusion rate of mivacurium required to maintain 95% twitch depression and the plasma cholinesterase activity of individual subjects.