The pharmacokinetics, tissue distribution, and metabolism of the drug nitrofurantoin were examined in the channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) after intravascular or oral dosing. Mean plasma concentrations of nitrofurantoin after intravascular administration at 1 and 10 mg/kg of body weight were best fit to two- and three-compartment pharmacokinetic models, respectively. Nitrofurantoin was rapidly eliminated from the plasma after intravascular dosing; at 1 and 10 mg/kg, the terminal half-lives were 23 and 46 min, respectively. After oral dosing at 1 mg/kg, peak plasma concentrations (0.06 mu g/ml) occurred at 2 h; the bioavailability was 17%. Residues of nitrofurantoin and its metabolites in the tissues were initially eliminated rapidly but persisted at the later sampling times. Residue concentrations were highest in the plasma and excretory tissues. Approximately 21% and 4% of the oral dose were eliminated in the urine and bile, respectively. Parent nitrofurantoin was the major radiolabelled compound found in the urine; however, the percentage of total residues composed of metabolites increased with time. Biliary residues consisted mostly of nitrofurantoin metabolites. High-performance liquid chromatography revealed the presence of at least five metabolites in the urine and bile.