The first-dose and steady-state pharmacokinetics of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole were determined in 14 patients with cystic fibrosis. When pharmacokinetic data from the first dose were compared with those at steady state, both TMP and SMZ showed expected accumulations in serum concentrations and decreases in total body clearance. The area under the SMZ serum concentration-time curve was significantly greater at steady state, suggesting drug accumulation during long-term therapy. When pharmacokinetic characteristics for TMP and SMZ obtained in patients with cystic fibrosis were compared with those reported for normal adults, the patients were found to have shorter elimination half-lives and greater plasma clearances. In addition, the apparent volume of distribution for TMP was smaller for patients with cystic fibrosis than for normal adults, consistent with their reduced mass of adipose tissue. Our data support the need for increased dosing or decreased dosing intervals when administering TMP-SMZ to patients with cystic fibrosis.