The pulmonary absorption kinetics of a single molecular weight distribution (MWD) of fluorophore-labeled poly-α,β-[N (2-hydroxyethyl)-DL-aspartamide] (F-PHEA), a hydrophilic and biocompatible synthetic polypeptide, were studied in the isolated, perfused rat lung (iprl) as functions of administered polymer concentration, dose, vehicle, and presence and absence of fluorophore. The MWD was characterized before and after absorption by measurement of weight- and number-averaged molecular weights (Mwand Mn, respectively) using high-performance gel-permeation chromatography. Values for Mw and Mn were 8.6 and 5.3 kD before, and 6.7 and 4.7 kD after, absorption into the perfusate; there was no significant metabolism and the MWD of the absorbed polymer was independent of both dose and sampling time over a 3-hr period. F-PHEA failed to show any evidence of aggregation in solution or changes in dose distribution within the airways as functions of increasing polymer concentration and dose. A concentration ranging study indicated the presence of a saturable, carrier-mediated transport process for F-PHEA with a maximum absorption rate, Vmax, of approximately 180 µg or 0.027 µmol/hr. Coadministration of fluorophore-free PHEA was capable of depressing the absorption of F-PHEA. The transport process for F-PHEA appeared to have a molecular weight limit of about 7 kD for this hydrophilic polymer.