Single-pass and recirculating rat liver perfusion studies were conducted with [14C]enalapril and [3H]enalaprilat, a precursor-product pair, and the data were modeled according to a physiological model to compare the different biliary clearances for the solely formed metabolite, [14C]enalaprilat, with that of preformed [3H]enalaprilat. With single-pass perfusion, the apparent extraction ratio (or biliary clearance) of formed [14C]enalaprilat was 15-fold the extraction ratio of preformed [3H]enalaprilat, an observation attributed to the presence of a barrier for cellular entry of the metabolite. Upon recirculation of bolus doses of [14C]enalapril and [3H]enalaprilat, the biliary clearance, estimated conventionally as metabolite excretion rate/midtime metabolite concentration, for formed [14C]enalaprilat was again 10- to 15-fold higher than the biliary clearance for preformed [3H]enalaprilat, but this decayed with perfusion time and gradually approached values for preformed [3H]enalaprilat. The decreasing biliary clearance of formed enalaprilat with recirculation was explained by the dual contribution of the circulating and intrahepatic metabolite (formed from circulating drug) to excretion. Physiological modeling predicted (i) an influx barrier (from blood to cell) at the sinusoidal membrane as the rate-limiting process in the overall removal of enalaprilat, (ii) a 15-fold greater extraction ratio or biliary clearance for formed [14C]enalaprilat over [3H]enalaprilat during single-pass perfusion, and (iii) the time-dependent and declining behaviour of the biliary clearance for formed [14C]enalaprilat during recirculation of the medium. In the absence of a direct knowledge of eliminating organs in vivo, this variable pattern for excretory clearance of the formed metabolite within the organ is indicative of a metabolite formation organ.