Busulfan is widely used as a component of the myeloablative therapy in bone marrow transplantation. Recent studies have shown that the drug disposition is altered in children and is associated with less therapeutic effectiveness, lower toxicities, and higher rates of engraftment failure. We have evaluated the bioavailability of the drug in two groups of patients: eight children between 1.5 and 6 years of age and eight older children and adults between 13 and 60 years. Oral bioavailability showed a large interindividual variation. In children, the bioavailability ranged from 0.22 to 1.20, and for adults, it was within the range 0.47 to 1.03. The elimination half-life after intravenous administration in children (2.46 +/- 0.27 hours; mean +/- SD) did not differ from that obtained for adults (2.61 +/- 0.62 hours). However, busulfan clearance normalized to body weight was significantly higher in children (3.62 +/- 0.78 mL.min-1.kg-1) than that in adults (2.49 +/- 0.52 mL.min-1.kg-1). Also, the distribution volume normalized for body weight was significantly higher in children (0.74 +/- 0.10 L.kg-1) compared with 0.56 +/- 0.10 L. kg-1 in adults. The difference in clearance between children and adults was not statistically significant when normalized to body surface area, which most probably shows that busulfan dosage should be calculated on the basis of surface area rather than body weight. However, to avoid drug-related toxicities, drug monitoring and an individual dose adjustment should be considered because of the variability in busulfan bioavailability.