Intestinal adaptation of glucose transport during streptozocin-induced diabetes in rats was examined using microdensitometric analysis of [3H]phlorizin binding. Results of specific phlorizin binding were correlated with measurements of maximal transport capacity, carrier affinity, villus height, and enterocyte birth rate determined by the metaphase arrest technique. Animals diabetic for 14 days (acute) and 60 days (chronic) were compared with age-matched controls. In the jejunum, adaptation occurred only in chronically diabetic rats and consisted of a 10-fold increase in the density of phlorizin binding sites in the upper villus region (i.e., that portion normally transporting glucose), while in the ileum, adaptation occurred both in acute and chronically diabetic rats and consisted of 1) a 3-fold increase in density of phlorizin binding sites in the upper villus region of acutely diabetic rats and 2) an increased density in the upper villus region as well as the recruitment of phlorizin binding sites in the mid to lower villus region (i.e., that portion not normally transporting glucose) of chronically diabetic rats. Enhancement of glucose Vmax and villus length accompanied changes in binding, whereas enterocyte birth rates were similar in each group.