Maintaining tumor-bearing rats on total parenteral nutrition (TPN) for eight days significantly reduced mass, protein, and DNA in small intestine and colon. Coinfusion of glucagon-like peptide 2 (GLP-2) significantly increased each of these variables in the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum, but not in the colon. Histological analysis of tissue revealed normal mucosa thickness and villus height in the small intestine of GLP-2-treated rats, whereas non-treated rats maintained on TPN exhibited villus shortening and thinning of the mucosa. Compared with TPN alone, no significant effects of GLP-2 were noted on tumor growth, liver weight, or heart weight. Coinfusion of GLP-2 with TPN had no significant effect on TPN-associated immunosuppression, as measured by mitogen-induced proliferation of cultured splenocytes. Although translocation of bacteria to the mesenteric lymph nodes appeared to be reduced in GLP-2-treated rats, the difference between groups was not statistically significant. These results suggest that hormonal alterations may be more important than an absence of luminal nutrition in TPN-associated mucosa changes in tumor-bearing rats. Additionally, maintenance of gut integrity during TPN does not appear to be a sufficient condition for the avoidance of the negative sequelae associated with this route of supplemental nutrition.