Photochemotherapy using I.V. administered porphyrin photosensitizers has been used to treat superficial bladder cancers. In order to avoid cutaneous photosensitivity, lasting 6 - 8 weeks, we instilled the photosensitizer intravesically. After first studying the diffusion and localization of HpD in aqueous phase (5 mg/ml) in vitro through the bladder wall of pig by spectrofluorimetry ((lambda) ex equals 392 nm and (lambda) em equals 612.8 nm) and fluorescence microscopy, we determined the biodistribution of HpD in vivo in the rat bladder wall, 2 and 4 hours after bladder instillation of 0.4 ml of HpD: (1) the controls show only a weak autofluorescence restricted to the urothelium after 2 hours (24 micrometers plus or minus 5 micrometers, n equals 3) as well as after 4 hours (29.5 micrometers plus or minus 5 micrometers, n equals 3); (2) on the test preparation a higher fluorescence was observed: after 2 hours, HpD was localized in the urothelium and a very small part of the chorion (55 micrometers plus or minus 9 micrometers, n equals 9) whereas after 4 hours, it penetrated almost completely in the bladder wall (960 micrometers plus or minus 118 micrometers, n equals 9). In conclusion, a bladder instillation of 2 hours seems to be the optimal time of application in the rat since superficial bladder cancers, like carcinoma in situ, particularly occur in the urothelium (stage 0, pTa) or in the chorion (stage 1, pT1).