The disposition of naltrexone (NLT) (REVIA), an opioid antagonist intended for patients with impaired renal function and with severe intractable itching refractory to regular antipruritic therapy, was characterized. Hemodialysis effects on both efficacy and elimination of NLT also were assessed. We developed a simple, sensitive and selective reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) method for measuring NLT plasma concentration in hemodialysis patients treated to relieve pruritus. NLT and the internal standard, naloxone (NLX) were extracted from plasma using a solid-phase extraction method with sep-pack C18 cartridge. The method was employed to determine both naltrexone pharmacokinetics and dialysability parameters during 4-h in dialyzed patients with chronic renal impairment. Thus, seven patients (2 men, 5 women) with end-stage renal disease and pruritus on regular hemodialysis were included. They received one tablet of NLT (Revia, 50 mg) orally prior dialysis session. The Cmax at the inlet and at the outlet the dialyzer were higher (255+/-117 ng/mL and 206+/-137 ng/ml respectively) in comparison with healthy subjects (9 - 44 ng/mL). The decrease hepatic first-pass metabolism of NLT consecutive to end-stage renal disease and the renal impairment could explain the increased levels of the drug in plasma. Tmax before and after dialysis plates remain unchanged as healthy subjects (approximately 1h). With regard to dialysability, a high dialyzer extraction ratio averating 30 % was found with a low dialysis clearance of 58.70+/-17 mL/min. The amount removed by dialysis is only 1.27 mg. We concluded that hemodialysis has little effect on NLT blood levels, and consequently on drug pharmacokinetics, when the drug is delivered to dialyzed patients following oral route. Thus, dosage adjustement is not required in the presence of advanced dialysis-dependant renal failure. In patients with end-stage renal disease, hemodialysis does not result in clinically significant alterations in the disposition of NLT. Post-dialysis supplementation is not required. These data suggest that there is no pharmacokinetic basis for modification of the initial dosage, but in view of NLT plasma concentration levels in the patients, a clinician could determine whether dosage adjustment are necessary and, if so, make the required calculations accurately.