The pharmacokinetics of troglitazone (CAS 97322-87-7, CS-045), a new oral antidiabetic drug for the treatment of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), were investigated in rats, mice and dogs following oral and intravenous administration of 14C-labeled troglitazone at doses of 5 mg/kg. The absorption rates, calculated from the AUC ratios of total radioactivity after oral and intravenous administration, or from the biliary excretion rate after intraduodenal administration in rats were both as high as 75%. High uptake by the liver, one of the pharmacological target organs, was demonstrated in both rats and mice. Furthermore, in the KK mouse, an obese NIDDM model animal, the radioactivity was incorporated selectively as troglitazone itself to muscle, the peripheral target organ. Troglitazone reversibly bound to serum albumin with a high ratio (> 99%). Troglitazone was mostly metabolized to the conjugates: sulfate (M 1) and glucuronide (M 2). The oxidized metabolite, a quinone-type metabolite (M 3), was found to be further metabolized to the sulfate (U 2). The biliary excretion rates of these conjugates were high in each animal, and the occurrence of enterohepatic circulation of the conjugates was also suggested. Sex differences in pharmacokinetics were observed in rats; i.e. females showed a higher plasma concentration of troglitazone, and a lower concentration of M 1, than males, and they excreted the sex-related metabolite, a hydroxylated M 1 (U 1), in the bile.