The effects of subcutaneous administration of 5-benzylacyclouridine (BAU), a uridine phosphorylase (UrdPase, EC 188.8.131.52) inhibitor, on uridine concentration in plasma and urine were evaluated in rhesus monkeys. Administration of BAU at 50, 100 and 250 mg/kg increased the plasma uridine baseline concentration 1.5-, 2.9-, and 3.2-fold, respectively. The basis for this moderate perturbation of plasma uridine by BAU was investigated using a tracer dose of 500 μCi3H-uridine. Administration of3H-uridine alone led to its rapid catabolism to uracil and dihydrouracil. Administration of 83.3 mg/kg BAU with 500 μCi3H-uridine resulted in a 2.5-fold enhancement of3H-uridine plasma levels and a substantial decrease in the plasma levels of uridine catabolites, suggesting inhibition of UrdPase activity by BAU in rhesus monkeys. Coadministration of 83.3 mg/kg BAU with 83.3 mg/kg uridine also reduced the plasma concentration of uracil and dihydrouracil, but it did not increase plasma uridine concentration above that of control animals receiving 83.3 mg/kg uridine alone. In animals receiving uridine alone at 83.3 or 25 mg/kg, approximately 10% of the administered dose was recovered in the urine within 6 h, with unchanged uridine being the major component. In contrast, administration of 83.3 mg/kg BAU increased the excretion of unchanged uridine to more than 32% of the total dose administered, even when the urinary excretion ratio of uracil to uridine was reduced ten-fold. Administration of multiple doses (three times per day) of BAU alone (83.3 mg/kg) or in the presence of uridine (83.3 mg/kg) did not enhance plasma uridine concentration further. In addition, uridine pharmacokinetics were associated with a time-dependent relationship as evidenced by an increased total plasma clearance, renal clearance and volume of distribution, resulting in a substantial decrease in uridine peak concentration with time. These results indicate that administration of BAU inhibits UrdPase activity in rhesus monkeys as manifested by decreased uracil and dihydrouracil plasma levels, as well as a lower urinary excretion ratio of uracil to uridine, as compared to control animals. However, plasma levels of unchanged uridine were not substantially enhanced by BAU in spite of the large increase in urinary excretion of unchanged uridine. This phenomenon was also observed when uridine was coadministered with BAU, suggesting that plasma uridine concentration in monkeys may be strongly regulated by the renal system as evidenced by the "spillover" of excess plasma uridine into urine. In addition, the pharmacokinetics of uridine were dose-independent, but time-dependent. This investigation may provide insights into the clinical usefulness of BAU to protect against or rescue from host toxicity induced by FUra and other chemotherapeutic pyrimidine analogues whose toxicity can be alleviated by uridine. © 1995 Springer-Verlag.