- Linear pharmacokinetic models were obtained for fentanyl in anaesthetized rabbits. A composite model was used to predict the bolus dose and infusion rates necessary to achieve rapidly a steady-state concentration of fentanyl in plasma. When this was tested in a further six rabbits, steady-state concentrations were greater than predicted. The most likely reasons for this are imperfect mixing between plasma and the central compartment, and substantial uptake of fentanyl by the lung. These sources of error were allowed for in modifications to the model. On further testing, a 4-h infusion set to achieve a plasma fentanyl concentration of 10 ng ml-1 yielded actual concentrations ranging from a mean low of 8.7 ng ml-1 to a mean high of 18.0 ng ml-1. The second model described more precisely the disposition of fentanyl, although a tendency to overestimate dosing requirement remained. This tendency is probably a consequence of continuing lung uptake of fentanyl. The demonstrated ability to obtain rapidly and maintain for 4h "steady" blood fentanyl concentrations suggests that the methods merits further investigation with other drugs both in animals and man.