1. To compare the effects of intravenous and intraluminal hydrocortisone on jejunal transport, the proximal jejunum was perfused with glucose (28 mmol/l) in saline in two groups of normal subjects.
2. In the first group of seven subjects, compared with the control period results there were no changes in sodium, water and glucose absorption during the intravenous administration of hydrocortisone. In contrast, intraluminal hydrocortisone (100 mg/l) increased sodium, water and glucose absorption by 169%, 223% and 81% respectively (P < 0.001 in each case) above the control values, when peripheral plasma cortisol levels were similar to those achieved with intravenous hydrocortisone.
3. In the second group of three subjects, intraluminal hydrocortisone (10 mg/l and 30 mg/l), followed by an intravenous infusion of hydrocortisone, had no effects on sodium, water and glucose absorption.
4. In a third group of six normal subjects perfused with fructose (28 mmol/l) in saline and bicarbonate (28 mmol/l) in saline intraluminal hydrocortisone (100 mg/l) had no effect on solute and water absorption.
5. These results suggest that intraluminal hydrocortisone stimulates glucose-coupled sodium transport by exerting a topical effect on the apical membrane of the jejunal mucosa.