The anticancer drug paclitaxel is formulated for i.v. administration in a mixture of Cremophor EL and ethanol.Its oral bioavailability is very low due to the action of P-glycoproteinin the gut wall and CYP450 in gut wall and liver.However, proof-of-concept studies using the i.v. formulation diluted in drinking water have demonstrated the feasibility of the oral route as an alternative when given in combination with inhibitors of P-glycoprotein and CYP450. Because of the unacceptable pharmaceutical properties of the drinking solution, a better formulation for oral application is needed.We have evaluated the suitability of various self-micro emulsifying oily formulations (SMEOF's) of paclitaxel for oral application using wild-type and P-glycoprotein knockout mice and cyclosporin A (CsA) as P-glycoprotein and CYP450 inhibitor. The oral bioavailability of paclitaxel in all SMEOF's without concomitant CsA was low in wild-type mice, showing that this vehicle does not enhance intestinal uptake by itself.Paclitaxel (10 mg/kg) in SMEOF#3 given with CsA resulted in plasma levels that were comparable to the Cremophor ELethanol containing drinking solution plus CsA. Whereas the AUC increased linearly with the oral paclitaxel dose in P-glycoprotein knockout mice, it increased less than proportional in wild-type mice given with CsA. In both strains more unchanged paclitaxel was recovered in the feces at higher doses. This observation most likely reflects more profound precipitation of paclitaxel within the gastro-intestinal tract at higher doses. The resulting absolute reduction in absorption of paclitaxel from the gut was possibly concealed by partial saturation of first-pass metabolism when P-glycoprotein was absent. In conclusion, SMEOF's maybe a useful vehicle for oral delivery of paclitaxel in combination with CsA, although the physical stability within the gastro-intestinal tract remains a critical issue, especially when applied at higher dose levels.