The pharmacokinetics of flecainide were studied in six patients with cirrhosis of the liver and in six healthy subjects after a single 2 mg/kg intravenous dose. Hepatic biotransformation capability before flecainide dosing was assessed by antipyrine challenge. The mean plasma antipyrine t1/2 for patients (42.2 hours) was longer (p less than 0.01) than that for subjects (11.7 hours). For control subjects, the plasma t1/2 of flecainide (9.5 hours) was shorter (p less than 0.01), plasma clearance (9.1 ml/min/kg) was faster (p less than 0.01), and volume of distribution (7.5 L/kg) was smaller (p less than 0.05) compared with corresponding values in patients. Renal clearance did not differ (p greater than 0.05) between the two groups. The mean ratio of renal clearance to plasma clearance for subjects (0.4) was smaller (p less than 0.05) than that for patients. The slower rate of flecainide elimination from plasma in patients is likely due to reduced hepatic biotransformation. In patients with cirrhosis, plasma levels of flecainide may accumulate to unacceptably high levels with usual dosage regimens.