The kinetics of digoxin and analogues (metabolites) in the subcompartments of blood, erythrocytes and plasma, were first order and concentration independent. The rate and extent of red blood cell partitioning of the tested compounds were, according to first-order kinetics, identical in the presence and absence of structurally related compounds and dependent on lipophilicity and temperature; red blood cell penetration was a reversible process. Erythrocyte partitioning of digoxin and its analogues was postulated to be by passive diffusion. There was significant intracellular binding of the compounds, and hemoglobin was the major ligand. The kinetics of red blood cell partitioning of the individual compounds were fitted according to a closed two- or three-compartment modeL. The latter indicated the existence of two kinetically separable compartments within the red blood cells. Model-independent mean transit times of red blood cell-plasma water partitioning of the compounds depended largely on the lipophilicity and were a thousand times greater for the least lipophilic analogues than for the most lipophilic derivatives. Red blood cell partitioning of digoxin and its metabolites under in vivo and in vitro conditions, were equivalent. Plasma protein binding of the tested compounds was concentration independent, unaltered in the presence of the analogues, and temperature independent between 24 degrees C and 37 degrees C. Binding to albumin in buffer solution was significantly larger than to albumin in plasma for all the compounds. Binding of digoxin and its analogues to albumin in buffer solution increased with increasing lipophilicity of the compounds.