In this study, electrogenic ion transport in the intestine of the Australian common brushtail possum, Trichosurus vulpecula was investigated. In the ileum, a Na(+)-dependent, phloridzin- and amiloride-insensitive short-circuit current ( Isc) was present. Mucosal glucose stimulated a further phloridzin-sensitive, dose-dependent increase in Isc. A Na(+)-dependent, ouabain-sensitive Isc was also present in the caecum and colon. In the proximal and distal colon, amiloride (100 micro mol l(-1), mucosal) inhibited this Isc by 81+/-4% and 65+/-3%, respectively and the Ki for amiloride (approximately 1 micro mol l(-1)) was consistent with the inhibition of a classical epithelial Na(+) channel. In the caecum, 50% of the Isc was inhibited by amiloride (100 micro mol l(-1), mucosal). The amiloride-insensitive Isc in the colon was not due to electrogenic Cl(-) secretion, as serosal bumetanide (100 micro mol l(-1)) had no effect on the Isc. Furthermore, the secretagogues forskolin (10 micro mol l(-1)), carbachol (100 micro mol l(-1)) and dibutyryl-cAMP or dibutyryl-cGMP (100 micro mol l(-1)) did not stimulate electrogenic Cl(-) secretion by the colon. These results indicate that the transport properties of the hindgut of the possum differ significantly from those of eutherian mammals and may be associated with different functions of the hindgut of possums when compared to eutherian mammals.