Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effectiveness of oral 5-(phenylthio)acyclouridine (PTAU) in improving the pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of oral uridine. PTAU is a potent and specific inhibitor of uridine phosphorylase (UrdPase, EC 126.96.36.199), the enzyme responsible for uridine catabolism. This compound was designed as a lipophilic inhibitor in order to facilitate its access to the liver and intestine, the main organs involved in uridine catabolism. PTAU is fully absorbed after oral administration with 100% oral bioavailability. Methods: Uridine (330, 660 or 1320 mg/kg) and/or PTAU (30, 45, 60, 120, 240 or 480 mg/kg) were orally administered to mice. The plasma levels of uridine, its catabolite uracil, and PTAU were measured using HPLC, and pharmacokinetic analysis was performed. Results: Oral PTAU up to 480 mg/kg per day is not toxic to mice. Oral PTAU at 30, 45, 60, 120 and 240 mg/kg has a prolonged plasma half-life of 2-3 h, and peak plasma PTAU concentrations (Cmax) of 41, 51, 74, 126 and 161 μM with AUCs of 70, 99, 122, 173 and 225 μmol h/l, respectively. Coadministration of uridine with PTAU did not have a significant effect on the pharmacokinetic parameters of plasma PTAU at any of the doses tested. Coadministration of PTAU (30, 45, 60 and 120 or 240 mg/kg) with uridine (330, 660 or 1320 mg/kg) elevated the concentration of plasma uridine over that following the same dose of uridine alone, a result of reduced metabolic clearance of uridine as evidenced by decreased plasma exposure (Cmax and AUC) to uracil. Plasma uridine was elevated with the increase of uridine dose at each PTAU dose tested and no plateau was reached. Coadministration of PTAU at 30, 45, 60, 120 and 240 mg/kg improved the low oral bioavailability (7.7%) of uridine administered at 1320 mg/kg by 4.3-, 5.9-, 9.9-, 11.7- and 12.5-fold, respectively, and reduced the AUC of plasma uracil (1227.8 μmol h/l) by 5.7-, 6.8-, 8.2-, 6.3-, and 6.9-fold, respectively. Similar results were observed when PTAU was coadministered with lower doses of uridine. Oral PTAU at 30, 45, 60, 120 and 240 mg/kg improved the oral bioavailability of 330 mg/kg uridine by 1.7-, 2.4-, 2.6-, 5.2- and 4.3- fold, and that of 660 mg/kg uridine by 2.3-, 2.7-, 3.3-, 4.6- and 6.7-fold, respectively. Conclusion: The excellent pharmacokinetic properties of PTAU, and its extraordinary effectiveness in improving the oral bioavailability of uridine, could be useful to rescue or protect from host toxicities of 5-fluorouracil and various chemotherapeutic pyrimidine analogues used in the treatment of cancer and AIDS, as well as in the management of medical disorders that are remedied by the administration of uridine including CNS disorders (e.g. Huntington's disease, bipolar disorder), liver diseases, diabetic neuropathy, cardiac damage, various autoimmune diseases, and transplant rejection. © Springer-Verlag 2005.