The effect of sucralfate on the bioavailability of norfloxacin after single 400-mg doses of norfloxacin was evaluated in eight healthy males. Subjects received each of the following treatments in random sequence: (i), norfloxacin, 400 mg alone; (ii) sucralfate, 1 g, concurrently with norfloxacin, 400 mg; and (iii) sucralfate, 1 g, followed by norfloxacin, 400 mg, 2 h later. One day before administration of treatments 2 and 3, 1 g of sucralfate was given at 7 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m., and 10 p.m. Blood samples were collected immediately before the norfloxacin dose and at 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, and 24 h postdose. Urine was collected in divided intervals: from 0 to 12, from 12 to 24, and from 24 to 48 h. Norfloxacin concentrations in plasma and urine were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography. Mean area under the plasma concentration-versus-time curve extrapolated to infinity decreased significantly (P less than 0.001) after norfloxacin was given with and 2 h after sucralfate. The relative bioavailabilities were 1.8% when norfloxacin was taken with sucralfate and 56.6% when it was taken 2 h after sucralfate. After norfloxacin was given alone, the mean norfloxacin concentrations in urine collected during intervals of 0 to 12, 12 to 24, and 24 to 28 h were 118.9 +/- 72.3, 18.8 +/- 12.5, and 2.4 +/- 2.2 micrograms/ml, respectively. After norfloxacin was given with sucralfate, however, the mean norfloxacin concentrations in urine collected during the same time intervals were 6.8 +/- 4.7, 1.8 +/- 1.4, and 0 +/- 0 microgram/ml, respectively. Because of low pH and relatively high magnesium concentration in urine, susceptibilities of bacteria in urine are 8- to 32-fold lower than in broth. This fact, in combination with the reduced bioavailability of norfloxacin in the presence of sucralfate or antacids, is likely to result in treatment failure. The effect of sucralfate given after norfloxacin was not examined, nor was the effect of sucralfate given more than 2 h before norfloxacin. Administration or norfloxacin with sucralfate should therefore by avoided.