We examined the role of the large intestine in zinc absorption in rats in three separate experiments. In the first experiment, we examined apparent zinc absorption in rats fed diets containing graded levels of zinc carbonate (0.015-0.535 mmol Zn/kg diet) and evaluated zinc status on the basis of the zinc concentrations in serum and several tissues. The zinc absorption and the serum zinc concentration increased with the zinc content of the diet up to 0. 153 mmol Zn/kg diet. Femoral and pancreatic zinc levels increased linearly up to 0.229 mmol Zn/kg diet. In the second experiment, a zinc carbonate suspension was administered into the cecum via an implanted cannula or into the stomach via an orogastric tube, and the rats were fed diets with or without a highly fermentable fiber, guar gum hydrolysate (GGH, 50 g/kg diet), with coprophagy prevention. The amount of instilled zinc corresponded to the amount of zinc ingested as a component of the diet by the rats of a control group, 0.229 mmol Zn/kg diet. Apparent absorption of cecally instilled zinc was approximately half that observed when zinc was administered into the stomach in both diet groups. Serum and femur zinc concentrations in the cecum-administered groups were approximately 50 and 25% lower, respectively, than those in rats administered zinc into the stomach. The results demonstrate that, in vivo, the absorptive efficiency in the large intestine is not sufficient to satisfy the rat's zinc requirement and does not change when the luminal environment is substantially altered by feeding GGH. In Experiment 3, the effects of cecocolonectomy on zinc absorption were examined in rats with gastric acid suppression. In the cecocolonectomized groups, serum zinc concentration was lower as a result of treatment with a proton pump inhibitor, omeprazole, than in vehicle-treated rats, but not in sham-operated groups. These findings suggest that the cecum and colon contribute to zinc absorption when absorption in the small intestine is impaired.