1. Hydrolase activities against three dipeptides were measured in mucosal cytoplasm in unperfused intestines and in mucosal cytoplasm, luminal effluents and serosal secretions after perfusion in vitro and in vivo for 1 h. Intestines in vitro were prepared both from anaesthetized rats and from freshly killed rats.
2. Only 0·6–1·9% of the initial cytoplasmic activity was recovered in the luminal effluent when intestines in vitro were prepared from anaesthetized rats. Recoveries in luminal effluents were similar (1·3–3·3%) during perfusion in vivo.
3. Losses of dipeptidases into the luminal effluent were four to eight times greater when intestines in vitro were prepared from freshly killed animals.
4. Similar losses of dipeptidases into the secretion on to the serosal surface were observed; they too were much greater when intestines were prepared from freshly killed animals.
5. Small losses of mucosal DNA during perfusion were also observed; however, losses of cytoplasmic peptidases were consistently slightly greater.
6. Enzyme loss therefore probably occurs both by sloughing of whole cells and by a more specific process which is greatly influenced by experimental procedure. Caution is necessary in the interpretation of peptide transport experiments in vitro, although the possibility that intraluminal hydrolysis is of physiological significance must not be excluded.