This investigation determined 1) the effect of urine acidification on renal clearance (Clrenal), total systemic clearance (Cltotal) and nonrenal clearance (Clnonrenal) of pindolol, 2) whether urine acidification affected the stereoselectivity of pindolol excretion and 3) the pharmacodynamic effects that may result from changes in the activity of the organic base transporter. The Clrenal, Cltotal and Clnonrenal values of pindolol isomers were determined during pindolol administration (10 mg twice daily; control phase) and during pindolol administration (10 mg twice daily) with NH4Cl, a systemic and urinary acidifier, (1.5 g every 6 hr). Eight healthy males (22-33 yr) randomly received this therapy for 3 days on two occasions. On day 4, urine and plasma were collected over 24 hr. R-(+) pindolol Clrenal values during control and NH4Cl were 203 +/- 82 and 480 +/- 248 ml/min, respectively (P = .03). S-(-) pindolol Clrenal values during control and NH4Cl were 279 +/- 81 and 593 +/- 294 ml/min, respectively (P = .005). NH4Cl increased R-(+) pindolol Clrenal by 173% +/- 136% (P = .003) and S-(-) pindolol Clrenal by 127% +/- 105% (P = .03). Stereoselective renal excretion of pindolol was unaffected by NH4Cl; the R(+)/S(-) pindolol Clrenal ratio was unchanged from control to NH4Cl (0.74 +/- 0.23 to 0.81 +/- 0.10, P = NS, respectively). NH4Cl, however, affected pindolol Clnonrenal in a stereoselective fashion; R-(+) pindolol Clnonrenal values increased (641 +/- 241 to 851 +/- 251 ml/min; P = .02), whereas S-(-) pindolol Clnonrenal values remained constant (354 +/- 116 vs. 370 +/- 213 ml/min). Changes in pindolol clearance values resulted in a significant reduction in beta-blocking activity assessed by isoproterenol testing. We conclude that increasing the urine proton gradient can increase the Clrenal value of organic bases by 2-fold in a manner that is not stereoselective. NH4Cl, however, did increase the Clnonrenal value of pindolol in a stereoselective manner. These data, therefore, indicate that the administration of a urine-acidifying agent can greatly enhance the elimination of organic bases and ultimately reduce the pharmacologic activity of the organic base.