We have studied the clinical effects and pharmacokinetics of levodopa infusions and oral therapy in seven patients with Parkinson's disease. They all showed on-off fluctuations whilst receiving long-term treatment with levodopa in combination with a peripheral decarboxylase inhibitor. Intravenous infusion at a constant rate for up to 16 h resulted in a smoother clinical response, and maintained plasma levodopa concentrations within narrower limits compared with conventional oral therapy. Following infusion rates of 32-80 mg h-1 (0.5-1.3 mg kg-1 h-1) the plasma concentration associated with optimum therapeutic response lay between 0.3 and 1.6 mg l-1. There was considerable variation in the oral absorption and elimination of levodopa, both within and between subjects. The concentration of 3-OMe dopa in plasma hardly increased during each day's levodopa therapy. In all cases levels were greater than the maximum concentrations of levodopa, sometimes by as much as a factor of 10. In contrast to most previous reports on the pharmacokinetics of levodopa, the data presented here are consistent with a two-compartment kinetic model. It is not known whether the difference in pharmacokinetics is due to chronic therapy or whether it is specific to those patients who show on-off phenomena, but such changes might be related in some way to the development of fluctuations in clinical response.