Intestinal permeability and the effect of NSAIDs on permeability were investigated in 14 irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients and 15 healthy subjects. In the study, 24-h urinary recoveries of orally administered polyethylene glycols (PEGs 400, 1500, and 4000) were not significantly different in healthy subjects and IBS patients before or after NSAID ingestion. Lactulose mannitol ratios in healthy subjects and IBS patients were not significantly different. Only time-dependent monitoring of PEG excretion showed that NSAIDs enhanced intestinal permeability for PEG 4000 in healthy subjects (P = 0.050) and for PEGs 400, 1500, and 4000 in IBS patients (P = 0.012, P = 0.041, and P = 0.012, respectively). These results show that intestinal permeability in IBS patients is not different from that in healthy subjects; NSAIDs compromise intestinal permeability in IBS patients to a greater extent than in healthy subjects, which suggests that IBS is associated with an altered response of the intestinal barrier to noxious agents.