Numerous factors seem to affect zinc absorption. Gastric acid secretion has been demonstrated to facilitate iron absorption. The zinc tolerance test (ZTT with ZnSO4 220 mg p.o.) was performed in 11 healthy volunteers to study the effects of administering the acid secretion inhibitor cimetidine (1 g/day p.o. for 3 days) and to evaluate the influence of HCl gastric secretion on zinc absorption in physiological conditions. Zinc absorption was reduced after cimetidine administration (p less than 0.005), suggesting that gastric pH influences zinc absorption. To rule out any direct effect of the drug on zinc absorption in five other healthy adults we further evaluated zinc absorption by using a different H2 antagonist (ranitidine 300 mg/day for 3 days and 300 mg before the test). Cimetidine was also tested in these subjects at half the dosage administered to the first group of subjects. Gastric acidity was monitored at 60-min intervals throughout the test via a nasogastric tube. The areas under the plasma concentration curves for zinc were significantly reduced after ranitidine (p less than 0.01), but not after cimetidine administration. Gastric acid was also reduced after ranitidine, but not after cimetidine (500 mg) administration, suggesting that gastric acid secretion plays a role in the regulation of zinc absorption in man.