The pharmacokinetics of aniracetam (AP), a new cognitive performance enhancer, and its main metabolites was investigated after intravenous (iv) and oral administrations to rat. The plasma levels of AP, 4-p-anisamidobutyric acid (ABA), and p-anisic acid (AA) were determined simultaneously by the HPLC method. The plasma concentrations of the parent drug and ABA quickly declined in a biexponential manner, with rapid terminal decay and a small mean residence time. However, AA yielded nonlinearly high levels at the initial times and the plasma concentrations of 2-pyrrolidinone (PD) were sustained over a relatively long time. When AA was administered intravenously, nonlinearity of the plasma concentrations was also found at higher doses. To describe the time course of the plasma levels of AP and its metabolites after iv administration, a pharmacokinetic model with seven compartments was applied, which included 10 first-order rate constants and one Michaelis-Menten constant. An approximate fit was obtained between the observed and calculated curves based on the model, except for the plasma concentrations of ABA. The plasma concentration-time profiles of AP and its metabolites following oral administration of AP (50 and 100 mg/kg) were similar to those after iv dosing, with the exception of PD, which showed much lower plasma levels than those after iv administration. Elimination of AP and ABA was rapid after oral dosing, and the bioavailability of AP was extremely small (11.4 and 8.6%). As a result, AP was largely metabolized to ABA, AA, and PD in rat.