This study explores properties of P-glycoprotein dependent membrane transport in rat liver with the use of acridine orange as the substrate. We studied the biliary secretion of the dye, its binding to canalicular membrane P-glycoprotein, and effects of the inhibitor cyclosporin A: acridine orange is excreted into bile together with less hydrophobic and glucuronidated metabolites. Cyclosporin A inhibited both the secretion of acridine orange and of its metabolites. In TR- animals, a rat strain that is deficient of the canalicular multi-specific organic anion transport system, non-metabolized acridine orange is the predominant species in bile and its secretion is also inhibited by cyclosporin A. Binding of acridine orange to liver P-glycoprotein was analyzed by photoaffinity labeling with azidopine, a substrate of P-glycoprotein dependent transport in multi-drug resistant tumor cells. Labeling of the immunoprecipitated P-glycoprotein was inhibited by acridine orange, verapamil, and by cyclosporin A. The results show that biliary secretion of acridine orange is highly analogous to P-glycoprotein mediated membrane drug transport in tumor cells that exhibit multi-drug resistance.