Ten male patients scheduled for transurethral prostatic resection (aged 57-79) were given irrigating fluid by intravenous infusion at 50 ml.min-1 over 20 min. Each patient was subjected to two infusions: 1.5% glycine in water on one occasion, and the same solution but with 1% ethanol added on the other. Urine and blood samples were collected at regular intervals for up to 2 h after infusion, and the changes in the distribution of water and electrolytes between fluid compartments were calculated. Transient prickling skin sensations were frequently reported effects of the infusions. Two patients experienced visual disturbances. There were no changes in the blood ammonia and plasma vasopressin levels. During the infusions, the estimated blood volume and the total plasma sodium and potassium content increased. The solutions produced osmotic diuresis with increased urinary excretion of water and electrolytes. After ending the fluid administration, blood volume was rapidly restored. Over the following 120 min the irrigant water was redistributed intracellularly or removed by urinary excretion. The addition of ethanol did not alter the overall effects of glycine solution on the fluid balance.