The potential for the metabolic conversion of (-)-6-aminocarbovir to (-)-carbovir, a potent reverse transcriptase inhibitor effective against human immunodeficiency virus, has been examined in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Plasma (-)-6-aminocarbovir concentrations declined rapidly in a biphasic manner following an iv bolus dose of 20 mg/kg. The total systemic clearance was 5.4 liter/hr/kg and the terminal t1/2 was 0.35 hr. Following iv dosing, approximately half of the dose was excreted into the urine and comprised equivalent quantities of (-)-carbovir and (-)-6-aminocarbovir. Orally administered (-)-6-aminocarbovir was rapidly absorbed (tmax of 0.39 hr and Cmax of 4.96 micrograms/ml) following a 60 mg/kg dose. Following oral administration, 32% of the dose was eliminated in the urine, and comprised (-)-carbovir (75%) and (-)-6-aminocarbovir (25%). The oral bioavailability of (-)-6-aminocarbovir was 46% by plasma AUC comparison and 33% based on urinary excretion data. Exposure to (-)-carbovir was lower following (-)-6-aminocarbovir dosing than observed following (-)-Carbovir dosing, by both the oral and iv routes.