Daidzein (4',7-dihydroxyisoflavone), a soy phytoestrogen, is a weakly estrogenic compound that may have potential health benefits. Biotransformation of daidzein by the human gut microflora after ingestion converts it to either the highly estrogenic metabolite equol or to nonestrogenic metabolites. We investigated the metabolism of daidzein by colonic microflora of rats. Fecal samples, obtained before and after rats were exposed to daidzein at 250 or 1000 parts per million, were incubated in brain-heart infusion (BHI) broth with daidzein under anaerobic conditions. Samples were removed from the cultures daily and analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and mass spectrometry. The fecal bacteria of all rats, regardless of prior daidzein exposure, metabolized the added daidzein to dihydrodaidzein. Both compounds disappeared rapidly from BHI cultures incubated for more than 24 h, but no other daidzein metabolites were detected. Only daidzein and dihydrodaidzein were found in a direct analysis of the feces of rats that had consumed daidzein in their diets. Unlike the fecal bacteria of humans and monkeys, the rat flora rapidly metabolized daidzein to aliphatic compounds that could not be detected by HPLC or mass spectral analysis.