Large-bowel fermentation of resistant starch produces SCFA that are believed to be important in maintaining visceral function. High-amylose maize starch (HAMS) and acylated starches are sources of resistant starch and are an effective means of increasing colonic SCFA. Cooking increases digestibility of starches but its effects on the capacity of these starches to raise large-bowel SCFA are unknown. We have examined the effects of cooking of HAMS and butyrylated HAMS (HAMSB) on amylolysis in vitro and their capacity to raise caeco-colonic SCFA in rats. The starches were boiled in excess water and microwaved, followed by drying at 100 degrees C. Cooking increased in vitro glucose release for both starches but significantly less from HAMSB. Rat growth rates were unaffected when fed cooked resistant starch. Digesta pH was increased in the caecum and proximal colon of rats fed cooked HAMS. Distal colonic pH was highest in rats fed cooked HAMSB. Factorial analyses (2x2) of caecal SCFA pools showed significant differences between HAMS and HAMSB, and that cooking significantly lowered caecal butyrate pools. Portal venous butyrate concentrations were higher in both HAMSB groups than those fed HAMS. The data suggest that HAMSB is less susceptible to in vitro amylolysis than HAMS following cooking and delivers more butyrate to rat caecum than HAMS. This attribute may be useful in food applications for specific delivery of SCFA to the colon. Preparation of carbohydrates to simulate human food in animal experiments may be important to assess nutritional and physiological effects accurately.