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In children younger than 2 years of age vertically infected with HIV-1, the recommended pediatric dosing regimen for nelfinavir (20 to 30 mg/kg three times a day) provides insufficient drug exposure. This study was conducted to determine the steady state pharmacokinetics of nelfinavir and its active metabolite, M8, in this population.Fourteen infants (2.3 to 8.5 months) underwent 18 intensive pharmacokinetic studies of nelfinavir and M8 at steady state. Nelfinavir and M8 concentrations were measured by high performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry, and individual pharmacokinetic values were determined.A mean nelfinavir daily dose of 135.7 ± 18.8 mg/kg (twice or three times a day) resulted in median Cmin, Cmax, area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC0–24 h) and CL/ F for nelfinavir of 0.627 mg/l, 2.39 mg/l, 30.6 mg*h/l and 4.2 liters/h/kg, respectively. When normalized for a daily dose of nelfinavir of 150 mg/kg/day, 16.7% of Cmax and 27.8% of AUC0–24 h values were below the tenth percentile for adult values.During the first year of life, nelfinavir requirement is much higher than in older children and adults to obtain similar drug exposure. The mechanisms underlying such differences may involve higher first past metabolism and/or drug interactions or might be related to feeding conditions.