Plasma immunoreactive secretin concentrations were determined in both healthy subjects and patients with duodenal ulcer. The modified radioimmunoassay method could detect significant increases in the plasma secretin concentrations when 0.05 N HCl was infused intraduodenally at a rate of 1.1 and 2.2 ml/min. The mean fasting plasma secretin concentration of 13 normal healthy subjects was 4.4 +/- 0.38 pg/ml which was significantly less (P less than 0.01) than that of 13 duodenal ulcer patients, 6.9 +/- 0.64 pg/ml. In both groups ingestion of a meat-containing meal resulted in significant increase in the plasma secretin concentrations. Recording of pH from proximal duodenum indicated that pH fell periodically below 4.5 during the postprandial period, indicating that only a short segment of proximal duodenum was exposed to acid after meal. The postprandial rise in plasma secretin levels was abolished when antral pH was raised 5.5 by intragastric infusion of 0.3 N NaHCO3 solution. These observations indicate that although fasting plasma secretin levels are low, the plasma secretin levels increase significantly after ingestion of a meal. This increase appears to be attributable to an increased amount of acid delivered to the proximal duodenum, and patients with duodenal ulcer were found to release more secretin during the postprandial period than normal subjects.