Furosemide was administered as either an i.v. bolus (6 mg/kg) or primed continuous infusion (4 mg/kg/hr) with quantitative fluid replacement to 10 3-day-old and 9 18-day old piglets. Total and unbound plasma as well as urinary furosemide concentrations were measured for up to 6 hr and drug disposition and renal sodium excretory dynamics were compared at the two ages. The plasma clearance of furosemide was concentration-independent over the range studied (0.1-10 mg/l). Steady-state volume of distribution and unbound fraction of furosemide in plasma were both considerably higher in the younger piglets (618 +/- 320 vs. 201 +/- 71 ml/kg, p less than .01 and 0.22 +/- 0.08 vs. 0.06 +/- 0.02 ml/kg, p less than .001, respectively) while unbound secretory clearance was several-fold lower in this age group (49.2 +/- 23 vs. 107 +/- 55 ml/min/kg, P less than .01). A log-logistic equation was fitted to sigmoidal plots of sodium excretion rate vs. log furosemide excretion rate. While basal response and slope parameters did not differ significantly, maximal response and stimulus required for half-maximal response were both reduced in the younger piglets (0.70 +/- 0.24 vs. 1.18 +/- 0.30 mmol/min and 0.06 +/- 0.04 vs. 0.14 +/- 0.06 mumol/min, respectively, P less than 0.05). Thus, younger piglets were more sensitive to the natriuretic effects of the drug. While term piglets were useful for studying the maturation of protein binding and renal drug excretory processes for furosemide, drug disposition was not comparable to that in human premature infants because of the higher secretory capability of the piglet.