Abstract Pharmacokinetic studies have been used traditionally to characterize drug concentration profiles achieved in the bloodstream. However, endectocide molecules exert their persistent and broad spectrum activity against parasites localized in many different tissues. The aim of this study was to compare the distribution of ivermectin (IVM) and doramectin (DRM) to different tissues in which parasites are found following subcutaneous administration to calves. Holstein calves weighing 120–140 kg were injected in the shoulder area with commercially available formulations of IVM (Ivomec 1% MSD AGVET, NJ, USA) (Group A) or DRM (Dectomax 1%, Pfizer, NY, USA) (Group B). Two treated calves were sacrificed at 1, 4, 8, 18, 28, 38, 48 or 58 days post-treatment. Plasma, abomasal and small intestinal fluids and mucosal tissues, bile, faeces, lung and skin samples were collected, extracted, derivatized and analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with fluorescence detection to determine IVM and DRM concentrations. IVM and DRM were distributed to all the tissues and fluids analyzed. Concentrations >0.1 ng/ml (ng/g) were detected between 1 and 48 days post-treatment in all the tissues and fluids investigated. At 58 days post-treatment, IVM and DRM were detected only in bile and faeces, where large concentrations were excreted. Delayed T max values for DRM (4 days post-administration) compared to those for IVM (1 day) were observed in the different tissues and fluids. High IVM and DRM concentrations were measured in the most important target tissues, including skin. The highest IVM and DRM concentrations were measured in abomasal mucosa and lung tissue. Enhanced availabilities of both IVM (between 45 and 244%) and DRM (20–147%) were obtained in tissues compared to plasma. There was good correlation between concentration profiles of both compounds in plasma and target tissues (mucosal tissue, skin, and lung). Drug concentrations in target tissues remained above 1 ng/g for either 18 (IVM) or 38 (DRM) days post-treatment. The characterization of tissue distribution patterns contributes to our understanding of the basis for the broad-spectrum endectocide activity of avermectin-type compounds.