Duodenal biopsies from 29 adult atopic dermatitis (AD) patients with multiple positive skin prick test reactions were examined and the results compared with biopsies from 13 non-atopic controls. The duodenal mucosa showed mild inflammatory changes in six out of the 29 patients, but was normal in all the controls. Numerous anti-IgE positive cells, increasing with the severity of AD, were found in the duodenal mucosa in 25 of the 29 AD patients compared with few sporadic positive cells seen in only two out of 13 controls (P less than 0.001). The total serum IgE level showed a significant positive correlation with the number of anti-IgE stained cells in the mucosa (P less than 0.05). No significant differences were found in the total number of toluidine blue stained cells or cells immunoreactive for histamine between patients and controls. However, AD patients who had high numbers of anti-IgE positive cells often had decreased numbers of histamine immunoreactive cells in the mucosa suggesting mast cell degranulation. These findings provide further evidence that also in adult AD patients the gastrointestinal tract may serve as a portal of entry for allergens which may lead to exacerbation of AD.