Free and total ketoprofen levels in serum and synovial fluid were determined in 37 patients after a single intramuscular injection of ketoprofen, 100 mg. Free drug was separated by equilibrium dialysis. Ketoprofen was assayed by HPLC. Ketoprofen penetrated into the joints rapidly and significant concentrations were found at 15 minutes. The equilibrium time was about 3 1/2 hours. The AUC for total ketoprofen was greater in serum than in synovial fluid. On the other hand, the free fraction AUC in the serum and synovial fluid were quite similar. The mean residence time in the joint was about three times that in the systemic circulation. Ketoprofen was strongly bound to proteins and the percentage of free ketoprofen was not significantly different between serum and synovial fluid. These results provide a possible explanation for duration of the therapeutic effect of ketoprofen despite the short elimination half-life from the serum.