The pharmacokinetics of Sb was examined in 29 patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis following the intramuscular administration of a dose of sodium stibogluconate equivalent to 600 mg of Sb. Blood was sampled at different time intervals from each patient and Sb was measured in whole blood by electrothermal atomic absorption spectrophotometry after an appropriate dilution with Triton X-100. The 24-hr urine was also collected and analyzed similarly. The blood concentration-time data conformed to the one-compartment open model with mean and (SEM) of the apparent first-order rate constants for absorption (ka) and elimination (kd) of 1.71 (0.15) and 0.391 (0.016) hr-1, respectively. The maximum concentration of Sb achieved was 8.77 (0.39) mg/L and the peak time was 1.34 (0.09) hr. The total body clearance (TBC) and the volume of distribution (Vd) were 17.67 (1.38) L/hr and 45.7 (2.6) L, respectively, assuming a complete absorption. The fraction of dose of Sb excreted in the urine was 0.80 (0.07) and the renal clearance was 12.7 (1.16) L/hr. The frequency distribution pattern of the area-under-the-curve (AUC) appears to be bimodal and separates patients into those with low exposure to Sb (AUC = 11.7-29.04 mg.hr/L) (i.e., rapid eliminators) and those with high exposure to Sb (AUC = 31.5-49.1 mg.hr/L) (i.e., slow eliminators). This may explain the variability observed in the response to treatment of leishmaniasis with sodium stibogluconate.