When topically applied, dorzolamide reaches the systemic circulation. To assess the potential for systemic carbonic anhydrase inhibition following topical administration, active substance and metabolite concentrations in red blood cells (RBCs) and plasma and carbonic anhydrase inhibition in RBCs were measured. Dorzolamide accumulates in RBCs during chronic dosing as a result of selective binding to CA-II while extremely low concentrations of free active substance in plasma are maintained. The parent active substance forms a single N-desethyl metabolite that inhibits CA-II less potently than the parent active substance but also inhibits a less active isoenzyme (CA-I). The metabolite also accumulates in RBCs where it binds primarily to CA-I. Dorzolamide binds moderately to plasma proteins (approximately 33%). Dorzolamide is primarily excreted unchanged in the urine; the metabolite is also excreted in urine. After dosing ends, dorzolamide washes out of RBCs non-linearly, resulting in a rapid decline of active substance concentration initially, followed by a slower elimination phase with a half-life of about four months.