Pharmacokinetics of recombinant human non-glycosylated bacterially-synthesized (E. coli) granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) were studied following single intravenous (i.v.) and subcutaneous (s.c.) bolus injection, and compared to equivalent doses of glycosylated mammalian-derived CHO-GM-CSF. Each route of administration gave a different GM-CSF concentration-time profile. The highest peak serum concentrations (Cmax) were observed following i.v. bolus injection. After i.v. administration, a two-phase decline in concentration was noted for both types of GM-CSF with a significantly shorter t1/2 alpha of 7.8 minutes for the E. coli GM-CSF versus 20.0 min for the CHO-GM-CSF, while no significant difference was observed for the terminal phase. Following s.c. administration of equivalent doses, a higher peak serum concentration was observed in the E. coli-treated patients and, again, a faster elimination where pretreatment serum levels were reached after 16-20 h, versus more than 48 h after administration of CHO-GM-CSF. Although the non-glycosylated E. coli GM-CSF thus seems to undergo a faster elimination that the glycosylated CHO-GM-CSF no significant difference could be demonstrated in the in vivo effect of corresponding doses of the two compounds with respect to stimulation of granulopoiesis--with reservation for small patient numbers and a large individual variations in response.