Zinc compounds have been shown to antagonize various types of gastric ulceration in rats. Zinc carnosine (Z-103), a newly developed agent was, therefore, examined for its antiulcer effect in stress-induced ulceration and also its membrane stabilizing action in rat stomachs. Cold-restraint (restrained at 4 degrees C for 2 h) stress induced severe hemorrhagic lesions together with increased mast cell degranulation and beta-glucuronidase release in the gastric glandular mucosa. Z-103 pretreatment with a single oral dose (3, 10 or 30 mg/kg) reversed these actions in a dose-dependent manner. When the compound was incubated in concentrations of 10(-7, 10(-6), 10(-5) or 10(-4) M, with isolated hepatic lysosomes, it significantly reduced the spontaneous release of beta-glucuronidase in the medium. The present study not only demonstrates the antiulcer effect of Z-103 but also indicates that the protective action is likely to be mediated by its membrane-stabilizing action on mast cells and lysosomes in the gastric glandular mucosa.