Mianserin protein binding was measured in serum from 43 healthy subjects and plasma from 12 elderly depressed patients and 23 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Free fraction (mean +/- SD) was 5.5 +/- 0.7% in the healthy subjects, 5.0 +/- 0.8% in the elderly subjects and 6.0 +/- 1.0 in the patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In the group of elderly patients treated with mianserin, a high correlation (r = 0.83, P less than 0.001) between total and free concentrations of mianserin was found. In both groups a high linear correlation (r = +0.90, P less than 0.001) between the free fraction of mianserin and that of imipramine was found, the latter being about twice as high as for mianserin. In both healthy subjects and arthritis patients the degree of protein binding was positively correlated to the concentration of alpha 1-acid-glycoprotein and complement C3c, and somewhat more weakly to haptoglobin. In the healthy subjects protein binding was also highly positively correlated to the concentration of apolipoprotein B, whereas no such correlation was found in the rheumatoid arthritis patients. In the rheumatoid arthritis patients protein binding was highly correlated to the concentration of hemopexin and somewhat more weakly to ceruloplasmin and fibrinogen; a weak negative correlation to the concentration of albumin was also found. Since significant intercorrelations between the concentrations of these proteins were found, the correlation to the degree of binding of mianserin may not necessarily represent binding of the drug to the protein.