A randomized, crossover study of 12 healthy volunteers was conducted with single, 1.5-g doses of mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), a prodrug of mycophenolic acid (MPA), after oral and intravenous administration. During the intravenous infusion, phase systemic plasma clearance of MMF was approximately 10 L/min and the half-life (t1/2) was a few minutes. After oral administration, however, plasma MMF was below quantitation limits at all times. The plasma MPA profile of oral MMF showed a sharp peak at approximately 1 hour and a secondary peak at 8 to 12 hours. Mean apparent plasma t1/2 of MPA was similar for both routes (approximately 17 hours). The area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) from time 0 to 24 hours was statistically higher for intravenous than for oral administration, but total AUC showed statistical equivalence (80-120 rule), with mean bioavailability of MPA from oral administration of MMF estimated as 94.1% relative to the intravenous route. Total plasma AUC of mycophenolic acid glucuronide (MPAG), the sole metabolite of MPA, was four- to five-fold higher than MPA. Total 48-hour MPAG recovery in urine was statistically equivalent for the two routes and represented a mean of 70% of administered drug; corresponding MPA recovery was less than 1%. Renal clearance (ClR) values required transport mechanisms for MPAG, but not for MPA. The ClR of MPAG was statistically higher after intravenous administration than oral administration. MMF administered orally undergoes rapid, complete absorption and essentially complete presystemic deesterification. There was presystemic removal of MPA, but enterohepatic circulation compensated for the first pass loss. Renal metabolism of MPA also may have occurred.