The hepatic metabolism of arylamine bladder carcinogens to N-hydroxy arylamine N-glucuronides, their excretion in the urine, and their subsequent acidic hydrolysis to highly carcinogenic and reactive N-hydroxy arylamines have been proposed as essential steps in arylamine-induced urinary bladder carcinogenesis. In this study, alteration of urinary pH, inhibition of metabolic sulfation, and blockage of biliary disposition were shown to profoundly affect the urinary excretion of the probable ultimate bladder carcinogen, N-hydroxy-2-naphthylamine (N-HO-2-NA) and its N-glucuronide conjugate. The normal pH of rat urine (6.7) was altered to 5.7 or 7.7 by administration of NH4Cl or NaHCO3 in the drinking water. Subsequent treatment with either 2-naphthylamine (2-NA) or 2-nitronaphthalene (2-NN) resulted in increased urinary levels of free N-HO-2-NA (relative to its N-glucuronide) in acidic urines and decreased relative amounts of free N-HO-2-NA in alkaline urines. In addition, 2-NN yielded 5--10-fold greater levels of urinary N-HO-2-NA and its N-glucuronide than rats given 2-NA; and 2-NA was not detected as a urinary metabolite of 2-NN. Some 12 additional metabolites of 2-NA and 2-NN were also found. Of these, 2-amino-1-naphthol and its sulfate and glucuronide conjugates were quantitated. From these data, 2-NA and 2-NN appear to share common metabolic pathways which yield free N-HO-2-NA as a putative ultimate urinary bladder carcinogen. Pentachlorophenol, a known inhibitor of hepatic sulfotransferases, was shown to cause a 2--3-fold increase in the urinary levels of N-HO-2-NA N-glucuronide and N-HO-2-NA from 2-NA-treated rats. Similarly, inhibition of the biliary excretion of 2-NA by bile duct ligation resulted in a 6-fold increase in total urinary N-HO-2-NfA. Furthermore, analyses of bile revealed that substantial amounts of N-HO-2-NA N-glucuronide, but not free N-HO-2-NA, were present. The role of urinary versus biliary excretion of N-hydroxy arylamines in relation to bladder and colon carcinogenesis is discussed.