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Six stable patients on continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis were evaluated for the appearance of ciprofloxacin in their peritoneal dialysate following oral ingestion of 750 mg of the drug every 12 h for four doses. Three subjects participated in this study twice, once while taking and once while abstaining from phosphate-binding aluminum antacids. Subjects tolerated the medication without evidence of toxicity. Food may have delayed or decreased the absorption of ciprofloxacin, whereas antacids definitely decreased the absorption of the drug. Peak concentrations in serum noted in the absence of antacids ranged from 2.9 to 6.4 micrograms/ml, and peak concentrations in dialysate in the absence of antacids ranged from 1.8 to 4.5 micrograms/ml. Peak ciprofloxacin concentrations in serum achieved in subjects taking antacids were 14 to 50% of those achieved in subjects without antacids. The peak concentrations in dialysate achieved in subjects on antacids were 8 to 33% of those observed in subjects off antacids. The clearance of ciprofloxacin by continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis represented 2% of the total body (systemic) clearance. Simultaneous ratios of concentration in dialysate to concentration in serum (D/S) were determined at various durations of dialysate dwelling within the peritoneum. A progressive rise of the D/S ratio was noted as dwell time increased. At 4 h D/S was 0.57 +/- 0.07 (mean +/- standard error of the mean; n = 9), and at 8 h it was 0.75 +/- 0.04 (n = 26). Long-dwell exchanges may be necessary to achieve reasonable concentrations of orally ingested ciprofloxacin in dialysate.