In total parenteral nutrition (TPN) of premature infants, glycero- and glucose-phosphate have been recommended, and clinically used, because of their considerable compatibility with calcium. However, a systematic comparative in vitro assessment of the therapeutic potential and safety of these substances has not yet been provided. We investigated the stability of TPN solutions containing calcium-gluconate and glycero- or glucose-phosphate in high concentrations. Evaluation was performed by visual inspection, absorptiometry, light microscopy, measurement of pH, and determination of calcium concentration before and after microfiltration. Even under circumstances promoting precipitation of calcium and phosphate--such as body temperature, relatively high pH, and concentrations of calcium and phosphorus exceeding those necessary to provide intrauterine accretion rates, all but one of the examined TPN admixtures remained stable. Our data suggest that the use of glycero-phosphate, and particularly glucose-phosphate, together with calcium-gluconate, is an uncomplicated and safe procedure to administer simultaneously high amounts of calcium and phosphorus in TPN of premature infants.