Budesonide, a topically potent glucocorticoid, was administered to 4 healthy volunteers by i.v. infusion and by nasal instillation of 100 micrograms tritium-labelled drug. Plasma was analyzed by liquid chromatography plus scintillation counting of collected fractions. After i.v. administration the plasma clearance was 0.921/min and the apparent volume of distribution was 2.81/kg. After nasal administration, the time to reach the peak plasma level was approximately 30 min, and the systemic availability was 102%. Budesonide had marginal effects on plasma cortisol and white blood cell counts either after i.v. or nasal administration. Thus, nasally instilled budesonide in solution is rapidly and completely absorbed from the nasal mucosa. The systemic effects after this clinically recommended nasal dose were negligible.