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The kinetics of crystalloid solutions in humans have not been adequately described previously. Therefore, we measured blood haemoglobin concentration during and for 120 min after i.v. infusion of 25 ml kg-1 of Ringer's acetate solution over 15, 30, 45 and 80 min, and 12.5 ml kg-1 over 30 min in six adult female volunteers. The dilution-time profiles were analysed according to a new kinetic model adapted for fluid spaces. Volume expansion produced by Ringer's solution approached steady state in an exponentially decaying manner when plasma volume had increased by approximately 550 ml. The size of the fluid space expanded by Ringer's solution was only 4.8 litre (95% confidence interval 3.8-5.8 litre) except for the fastest infusion, where it averaged 9.0 litre. The rate of fluid elimination could be predicted as the product of plasma dilution and a constant averaging 95 (95% confidence interval 68-122) ml min-1.