The gastric emptying kinetics of peptides derived from milk protein were studied in vivo in preruminant calves by collecting and characterizing the whole effluent leaving the stomach for 12 h after ingestion of crude skim milk. Peptides were isolated by reversed-phase HPLC and identified. Particular attention was paid to biologically active peptides and to peptides that could be precursors of biologically active sequences. A gastrin inhibitor, the caseinomacropeptide, was emptied from the stomach only during the first 0.5 h of digestion and rapidly hydrolysed. Precursors of immunostimulatory peptides from alpha s1- and beta-caseins were emptied throughout digestion in the gastric effluent. A precursor of beta-casomorphins (peptide 58-93 of beta-casein) was emptied from the stomach 3.5 h after the meal when it was taken on an empty stomach. From this precursor, peptides that may be resistant to hydrolysis by intestinal peptidase were obtained after in vitro hydrolysis by pancreatic enzymes. A phosphopeptide (fragment 110-142 of alpha s1-casein) was also found in digesta after a few hours of digestion. When the meal was not taken on an empty stomach, these peptides were emptied in the first digesta at a low concentration. The potential activity of these peptides is discussed. The results support the hypothesis that active sequences could still be present in the gut after the action of pancreatic enzymes.