Previous studies in mice with disrupted mdr1a P-glycoprotein genes have shown that the oral bioavailability of paclitaxel is very low because of the presence of this drug-transporting protein in the intestinal wall. Additional studies with cyclosporin A have shown that this P-glycoprotein-inhibiting agent is able to increase the bioavailability of paclitaxel in mouse models and in patients. However, the potential immune-suppressive side effects of cyclosporin A renders this compound less suitable for chronic use in cancer patients. In this paper we present the results obtained with GF120918, an experimental P-glycoprotein inhibitor, on the oral bioavailability of paclitaxel in both wild-type and mdrlab knockout mice. GF120918 (25 mg/kg) was administered p.o. by gavage 15 min or 2 h before oral or i.v. dosing of paclitaxel, respectively. Paclitaxel plasma levels were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography. GF120918 increased the plasma values for areas under the concentration-time curve of oral paclitaxel in wild-type mice by 6.6-fold from 408 to 2701 ng x ml(-1) h. Calculated relative to their respective values for area under the concentration-time curve after i.v. administration, GF120918 increased the oral bioavailability of paclitaxel in wild-type mice from 8.5 to 40.2%. The plasma pharmacokinetics of paclitaxel in mdr1ab knockout mice was not altered by GF120918, whereas the pharmacokinetics of paclitaxel in wild-type mice receiving GF120918 became comparable with mdr1ab knockout mice. This result indicates that GF120918 at this dose-level selectively and completely blocks P-glycoprotein in the intestines and does not notably interfere in the elimination of paclitaxel by metabolism or other transporters. On the basis of this result, GF120918 has been selected for additional study in humans.