Fasting reduced the weight, protein, DNA, RNA and polyamine contents of the small intestine of rats, but its effects on the in vivo uptake of intraperitoneally injected 14C-spermidine through the basolateral membrane of the small intestine were small. The uptake of putrescine was nearly doubled by fasting for 48 h. Fasting for 48 h had reduced villus length but was without effects on the crypts. Refeeding for 6 h of rats fasted for 48 h led to hypertrophic growth: the length of both crypts and villi increased by about 50% without changes in cell number. The uptake of spermidine by the small intestine increased above not only that in fasted rats but also that in the controls fed ad libitum. The high putrescine uptake of rats fasted for 48 h was unchanged after refeeding for 6 h, but returned to control values after 12 h. Spermidine in the gut was well conserved, while most of the putrescine was transformed into non-polyamine metabolites. It is concluded that refeeding stimulates basolateral spermidine uptake, and this may be a general mechanism for polyamine accretion in adaptive growth of the small intestine.