Moxalactam, a new beta-lactam antibiotic with a wide in vitro spectrum of activity, was compared with cefazolin after intravenous and intramuscular administration of 1.0 g in a double-blind crossover design in 21 adult male subjects with normal renal function. Serum samples were obtained at 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 12 h, and urine was collected at 0 to 2, 2 to 4, 4 to 6, 6 to 8, and 8 to 12 h after dosing. Intravenous kinetics were described by a linear two-compartment model. For moxalactam, the drug clearance and volume of distribution were larger (115.2 versus 75.9 ml/min per 70 kg, P = 0.001, and 0.44 versus 0.19 liter/kg, P less than 0.001, respectively), and the t1/2beta was longer (3.47 versus 2.18 h, P = 0.01), with correspondingly smaller area under the curve (151 versus 236 h x mg/ml, P = 0.003) and lower serum concentration at 30 min (62 versus 106 micrograms/ml, P = 0.003) than cefazolin. Intramuscular kinetics were similar and were well described by a single-compartment model. Urinary recovery was essentially identical for both drugs: 55 to 75% in 8 h. Consistent departures from the two-compartment model for moxalactam (not noted for cefazolin) suggested enterohepatic recirculation of moxalactam. Both drugs were well tolerated, and no adverse reactions were noted.