The effect of oral activated charcoal on the pharmacokinetics of intravenous imipramine was studied in a randomized, crossover trial. Four normal men received intravenous imipramine (12.5 mg/70 kg) on two separate occasions, followed by either water or water plus high-surface-area activated charcoal (180 gm) in divided doses over 24 hours. Serum imipramine concentrations were measured from 0 to 24 hours after the imipramine infusion. There was no difference in the mean (+/- SE) t1/2 (9.0 +/- 0.8 vs. 10.9 +/- 1.6 hours), apparent volume of distribution (11.2 +/- 2.1 vs. 12.4 +/- 2.1 L/kg), or systemic clearance (992.2 +/- 138.3 vs. 930.3 +/- 101.9 ml/min/70 kg) of imipramine after dosing without and with oral activated charcoal, respectively (P greater than 0.05; paired t test). These results suggest that multiple oral doses of activated charcoal do not increase the clearance of imipramine in man.