The BioBreeding (BB) rat provides a model of spontaneous type I diabetes mellitus that closely resembles the human disease. Diabetes-prone BB rats demonstrate increased intestinal permeability prior to the development of insulinitis. Studies suggest that alterations in intestinal permeability can lead to increased intestinal inflammatory activity. Diabetes-prone (BBdp) and diabetes-resistant (BBdr) BB rats were examined at 45 days and at >70 days of age following the development of clinical disease (BBd). In separate experiments, tissue was assayed for myeloperoxidase (MPO) or fixed for histological assessment and immunohistochemistry. Blood was obtained for leukocyte MPO measurements and morphological assessment of circulating leukocytes. MPO activity was significantly elevated in the distal small intestine of 45-day-old BBdp rats. In contrast, at >70 days of age, MPO activity was significantly increased throughout the small intestine of BBd and non-diabetic BBdp rats. Subsequently, all measurements were performed in >70-day-old rats. An increase in inflammatory infiltrate was noted in the distal small intestine of BBd rats by light microscopy. Infiltrating cells were identified as bands (a maturing cell type of the neutrophil lineage) and mature neutrophils. The findings suggest diabetes susceptibility is associated with an increase in intestinal inflammatory activity.