The insulinotropic hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is stored in the intestinal L cell in an active form, GLP-1-(7-36)amide, but more than half of the endogenous peptide circulates in an inactive, N-terminally truncated form, GLP-1-(9-36)amide. This study examined the GLP-1 newly secreted from the porcine ileum, in vitro (isolated perfused preparation) and in vivo (anesthetized pig), to determine where this conversion occurs. Although the GLP-1 extractable from the porcine ileum is predominantly the intact peptide (94.6+/-1.7%), a large proportion of the GLP-1 that is secreted has already been degraded to the truncated form both in vitro (53.8+/-0.9% intact) and in vivo (32.9+/-10.8% intact). In the presence of a specific dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP IV) inhibitor (valine-pyrrolidide), the proportion of intact GLP-1 released from the perfused ileum was increased under both basal (99% intact; P < 0.05) and stimulated (86-101% intact; P < 0.05) conditions. Immunohistochemical and histochemical studies revealed specific DPP IV staining in the brush border epithelium as well as in the capillary endothelium. Double staining showed juxtapositioning of DPP IV-positive capillaries and GLP-1-containing L cells. From these results, we suggest that GLP-1 is degraded as it enters the DPP IV containing blood vessels draining the intestinal mucosa.