1. The absorption and disposition of the potassium sparing diuretic amiloride were determined in nine elderly patients aged 71 to 87 years and in eight young (25 to 38 years) subjects following oral administration of 5 mg amiloride HCl daily to steady-state. 2. The maximum and steady-state plasma amiloride concentrations were significantly (P less than 0.05 and P less than 0.001) higher in the elderly patients. The renal clearance of amiloride was lower in the elderly than in young subjects (102 +/- 36 ml min -1 vs 300 +/- 64 ml min-1, P less than 0.001) as was the urinary excretion of amiloride (36 +/- 13 vs 62 +/- 18% of the dose, P less than 0.01). 3. The steady-state plasma amiloride concentration correlated significantly (r2 = 0.61, P less than 0.001) with amiloride renal clearance and with creatinine clearance (r2 = 0.59, P less than 0.001). There was a very strong positive correlation between renal amiloride clearance and creatinine clearance (r2 = 0.76, P less than 0.001). The slope of the regression line was 2.5 indicating substantial proximal tubular secretion of amiloride. 4. Sodium and potassium excretion, along with urine volume were significantly (P less than 0.05) lower in the elderly (by 39, 45 and 34% respectively). 5. The disposition of amiloride was highly dependent on renal function, with higher plasma amiloride concentrations in the elderly reflecting diminished renal function. The dose of amiloride should be titrated to individual response, and the lower potassium excretion in the elderly patients suggests that the dose of amiloride could be reduced in this group of patients.