In diacetylmorphine prescription programs for heavily dependent addicts, diacetylmorphine is usually administered intravenously, but this may not be possible due to venosclerosis or when heroin abuse had occurred via non-intravenous routes. Since up to 25% of patients administer diacetylmorphine orally, we characterised morphine absorption after single oral doses of immediate and extended release diacetylmorphine in 8 opioid addicts. Plasma concentrations were determined by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Non-compartmental methods and deconvolution were applied for data analysis. Mean (+/-S.D.) immediate and extended release doses were 719+/-297 and 956+/-404mg, with high absolute morphine bioavailabilities of 56-61%, respectively. Immediate release diacetylmorphine caused rapid morphine absorption, peaking at 10-15min. Morphine absorption was considerably slower and more sustained for extended release diacetylmorphine, with only approximately 30% of maximal immediate release absorption being reached after 10min and maintained for 3-4h, with no relevant food interaction. The relative extended to immediate release bioavailability was calculated to be 86% by non-compartmental analysis and 93% by deconvolution analysis. Thus, immediate and extended release diacetylmorphine produce the intended morphine exposures. Both are suitable for substitution treatments. Similar doses can be applied if used in combination or sequentially.