Ketorolac tromethamine is a potent non-narcotic analgesic with moderate anti-inflammatory activity. Clinical studies indicate that ketorolac has a single dose efficacy greater than morphine for postoperative pain and has excellent applicability in the emergency treatment of pain. Due to incomplete oral absorption of ketorolac, several approaches have been tried to develop a nonoral formulation in addition to injections, especially for the treatment of migraine headache. The aim of our study was to develop a nasal formulation of ketorolac with a dose equivalent to the oral formulation. A series of spray and lyophilized powder formulations of ketorolac were administered into the nasal cavity of rabbits, and their pharmacokinetics profiles were assessed. The spray and powder formulations were compared through their pharmacokinetics parameters and absolute bioavailability. Drug plasma concentration was determined using solid phase extraction, followed by an HPLC analysis. Nasal spray formulations were significantly better absorbed than powder formulations. A nasal spray formulation of ketorolac tromethamine showed the highest absorption with an absolute bioavailability of 91%. Within 30 min of administration, the plasma concentration was comparable to that resulting from an intravenous injection. The absolute bioavailability of a solution of ketorolac acid was 70%. Apparently, the dissolution of ketorolac acid into the mucous layer limits its absorption. There were no significant differences in absorption between different powder formulations. Even the reduction of particle size from 123 microm to 63 microm did not indicate better absorption of ketorolac tromethamine from powder formulations. Interestingly, the absolute bioavailability of ketorolac tromethamine from a powder formulation is only 38%, indicating that the drug may not be totally released from the polymer matrix before it is removed from nasal epithelium by mucociliary clearance.