The metabolism of trans-[3-14C]cinnamaldehyde was investigated in male and female Fischer 344 rats and CD1 mice at doses of 2 and 250 mg/kg body weight given by ip injection and in males at 250 mg/kg by oral gavage. Some 94% of the administered dose was recovered in the excreta in 72 hr in both species with most (75-81%) present in the 0-24-hr urine. Less than 2% of the administered dose was found in the carcasses at 72 hr after dosing. Urinary metabolites were identified by their chromatographic characteristics. In both species the major urinary metabolite was hippuric acid accompanied by 3-hydroxy-3-phenylpropionic acid, benzoic acid and benzoyl glucuronide. The glycine conjugate of cinnamic acid was formed to a considerable extent only in the mouse. The oxidative metabolism of cinnamaldehyde essentially follows that of cinnamic acid, by beta-oxidation analogous to that of fatty acids. Apart from the metabolites common to cinnamic acid and cinnamaldehyde, 7% of 0-24-hr urinary 14C was accounted for by two new metabolites in the rat and three in the mouse, which have been shown in other work to arise from a second pathway of cinnamaldehyde metabolism involving conjugation with glutathione. The excretion pattern and metabolic profile of cinnamaldehyde in rats and mice are not systematically affected by sex, dose size and route of administration. The data are discussed in terms of their relevance to the safety evaluation of trans-cinnamaldehyde, particularly the validity or otherwise of extrapolation of toxicity data from high to low dose.