Despite the widespread usage of hydroxyurea in the treatment of both malignant and nonmalignant diseases and a recent expansion in the recognition of its potential therapeutic applications, there have been few detailed studies of hydroxyurea's pharmacokinetic (PK) behavior and oral bioavailability. Parenteral administration schedules have been evaluated because of concerns about the possibility for significant interindividual variability in the PK behavior and bioavailability of hydroxyurea after oral administration. In this PK and bioavailability study, 29 patients with advanced solid malignancies were randomized to treatment with 2, 000 mg hydroxyurea administered either orally or as a 30-minute intravenous (IV) infusion accompanied by extensive plasma and urine sampling for PK studies. After 3 weeks of treatment with hydroxyurea (80 mg/kg orally every 3 days followed by a 1-week washout period), patients were crossed over to the alternate route of administration, at which time extensive PK studies were repeated. Three days later, patients continued treatment with 80 mg/kg hydroxyurea orally every 3 days for 3 weeks, followed by a 1-week rest period. Thereafter, 80 mg/kg hydroxyurea was administered orally every 3 days. Twenty-two of 29 patients had extensive plasma and urine sampling performed after treatment with both oral and IV hydroxyurea. Oral bioavailability (F) averaged 108%. Moreover, interindividual variability in F was low, as indicated by 19 of 22 individual F values within a narrow range of 85% to 127% and a modest coefficient of variation of 17%. The time in which maximum plasma concentrations (Cmax) were achieved averaged 1.22 hours with an average lag time of 0.22 hours after oral administration. Except for Cmax, which was 19. 5% higher after IV drug administration, the PK profiles of oral and IV hydroxyurea were very similar. The plasma disposition of hydroxyurea was well described by a linear two-compartment model. The initial harmonic mean half-lives for oral and IV hydroxyurea were 1.78 and 0.63 hours, respectively, and the harmonic mean terminal half-lives were 3.32 and 3.39 hours, respectively. For IV hydroxyurea, systemic clearance averaged 76.16 mL/min/m2 and the mean volume of distribution at steady-state was 19.71 L/m2, whereas Cloral/F and Voral/F averaged 73.16 mL/min/m2 and 19.65 L/m2, respectively, after oral administration. The percentage of the administered dose of hydroxyurea that was excreted unchanged into the urine was nearly identical after oral and IV administration-36. 84% and 35.82%, respectively. Additionally, the acute toxic effects of hydroxyurea after treatment on both routes were similar. Relationships between pertinent PK parameters and the principal toxicity, neutropenia, were sought, but no pharmacodynamic relationships were evident. From PK, bioavailability, and toxicologic standpoints, these results indicate that there are no clear advantages for administering hydroxyurea by the IV route except in situations when oral administration is not possible and/or in the case of severe gastrointestinal impairment.