1. The small-intestinal transfer of prunasin (D-mandelo-nitrile-beta-D-glucoside), the primary metabolite of amygdalin which is not absorbed in the small intestine as such, was studied in rat jejunum and ileum in vitro. 2. As shown by high pressure liquid chromatography, prunasin is transferred essentially intact across the intestinal wall, without cleavage of the glycosidic bond and thus no formation of benzaldehyde or cyanide during the mucosal passage. 3. Only the jejunal transfer of prunasin followed saturation kinetics (vmax = 1.6 mumol cm-1 min-1; KT = 460 mumol l-1) and exhibited a clearsodium-ion dependence. As indicated by the temperature dependence, only the jejunal mucosa-to-serosa transfer and the corresponding tissue uptake of prunasin required apparently high activation energies. Transfer in the terminal ileum showed diffusion characteristics. 4. Jejunal methyl alpha-D-glucoside transfer was inhibited by the presence of prunasin. Furthermore, the tissue uptake of methyl alpha-D-glucoside in rat jejunum was competitively inhibited by prunasin. 5. The results indicate that prunasin is absorbed unmetabolised in the jejunum of the rat via the transport system of glucose.