The dose-dependent first-pass metabolism and pharmacokinetics of salicylamide (SAM) were studied at four dose levels in six dogs. Four minutes after each oral dose, a tracer dose of [14C]SAM was given i.v. to determine clearance and bioavailability. Over the dosage range studied, 5 to 40 mg/kg, bioavailability increased from 0.24 +/- 0.14 (mean +/- S.D.) to 0.76 +/- 0.20 (P less than .05). Clearance decreased from 3.4 +/- 1.0 to 0.60 +/- 0.11 liters/min (P less than .01) and half-life increased from 5.0 +/- 1.2 to 23.5 +/- 6.1 min (P less than .01). Measurement of SAM clearance to individual metabolites indicated that the sulfoconjugation and not the glucuronidation pathway was responsible for the dose-dependent effects observed. These effects occurred even at doses not expected to have caused significant depletion of body stores of inorganic sulfate; the plasma concentration of inorganic sulfate decreased by only a maximum of 13 and 26% after the 5- and 10-mg/kg SAM doses, respectively. When [14C]SAM was given alone in tracer amounts, clearance values greatly exceeded cardiac output. This suggests that SAM undergoes sulfation in organs other than the liver and intestinal wall.