The metabolism of two glycosylnitrosoureas, 1-(2-chloroethyl)-3-[1'-(5'-p-nitrobenzoyl-2',3'-isopropylidene)-alpha, beta-D-ribofuranosyl]-1-nitrosourea (RFCNU) and 1-(2-chloroethyl)-3-(2',3',4'-tri-O-acetyl-alpha, beta-D-ribopyranosyl)-1-nitrosourea (RPCNU), has been investigated in the rat. With the label on the carboxyl moiety of RFCNU, we have shown that hydrolysis of the 4-nitrobenzoyl ester occurred to a large extent in vivo; 4-nitrobenzoic acid and its glucuronide were the major urinary metabolites. Two other minor metabolites and their glucuronides were identified as 4-aminobenzoic acid and 4-acetamidobenzoic acid. With the label on the chloroethyl moieties of RFCNU and RPCNU, we have shown that chloroethanol was a major degradation product of this alkylating part of the molecule. The concentration of chloroethanol in plasma vs. time has been determined. In urine, four metabolites derived from alkylated glutathione, namely thiodiacetic acid and its sulfoxide, N-acetylcarboxymethylcysteine, and N-acetylhydroxyethylcysteine, have been identified.