The effect of L(+)-, D(-)- and racemic (DL)-lactate on the energy-dependent renal uptake of the achiral organic cation amantadine was determined with purified proximal and distal cortical tubule fragments isolated from rat kidneys. Kinetic parameters for uptake of amantadine were measured, under constant pH, in bicarbonate buffer (Krebs-Henseleit [KHS]), and in lactate buffers (5 mM) with different proportions of the enantiomers. Km for amantadine uptake increased in all lactate buffers compared with KHS for both proximal and distal tubules. Km for uptake in DL-lactate was similar to that in D(-)-lactate for proximal tubules and to L(+)-lactate in distal tubules, but Km in L(+)-lactate was higher than in D(-)-lactate for both tubules. Maximal transport capacity (Vmax) in DL-lactate and mixtures of enantiomers were similar to KHS but higher than in pure L(+)- and D(-)-lactate. In KHS, lactate inhibited energy-dependent amantadine uptake in a biphasic manner. Graded competitive inhibition of amantadine uptake was observed between 1 and 15 mM lactate for both proximal and distal tubules. This first phase (1-15 mM) inhibited 60% of amantadine uptake. The second phase (15-20 mM lactate) showed a much steeper slope and inhibited the remaining amantadine uptake. There were no differences in inhibitory potencies of the lactate enantiomers for either proximal tubules or distal tubules amantadine tubule uptake. Our present studies suggest that L(+)- and D(-)-lactate modulate amantadine transport by interacting directly with the bicarbonate-dependent transport mechanism(s).