Sulfate conjugation by sulfotransferase enzymes is an important pathway for the detoxication of xenobiotics and endogenous compounds. The large surface area of the gastrointestinal tract exposes the body to a range of potential toxins, and hence local metabolism is likely to be important. The ability of different regions of the gut to sulfate micromolar concentrations of simple phenols and catecholamines has been determined throughout the gut using 4-nitrophenol and dopamine as standard substrates. The pattern of sulfation of both compounds was similar, with activity highest in the small bowel >right colon >left colon >rectum >stomach >esophagus. High concentrations of sulfotransferases in the reservoir areas of the right and left colon indicate possible importance in detoxication by sulfation and also perhaps in activating mutagens in the same areas. Nutritional factors, such as a high-fat diet may, however, alter sulfotransferase activity.