1. The pharmacokinetics of nilvadipine in male and female rats, and in male mice, rabbits and dogs were studied after i.v. and oral dosing. 2. After i.v. dosing (0.1 mg/kg), the plasma concentrations of nilvadipine declined two- or three-exponential with terminal half-lives of 0.73 h in mice, 1.2 h in male and female rats, 3.7 h in rabbits and 5.0 h in dogs. Sex difference in pharmacokinetics after i.v. dosing in rats was not found. The systemic plasma clearance was in the order of mice greater than rats greater than rabbits greater than dogs, and nearly equalled the hepatic blood flow in each species. The volume of distribution at steady-state was high (greater than 4 L/kg) in all species. 3. After oral dosing, plasma concentrations of nilvadipine peaked within 1 h in all species except for middle and higher doses (4 and 16 mg/kg) in dogs. The area under the plasma concentration-time curves in male rats (3.2-100 mg/kg) and dogs (1-16 mg/kg) increased in proportion to the dose. Bioavailability was low in male rats (3-4%) and rabbits (2%), but in other species was 29-44%. The oral clearance in male rats was about 8 times higher than in female rats. 4. The free fraction of nilvadipine in plasma was 1.94% in mice, 1.89% in rabbits and 0.85% in dogs, with no dependence on plasma concentration over a range of 10-100 ng/ml.