Eight patients with a short bowel resulting from intestinal resection and clinically stable for at least one year were studied for 10 days. The diet chosen was lactose-free with a low fiber content and contained 22% of total calories as protein, 32% as carbohydrate, and 46% as fat. Total fluid volume was kept constant, and all patients were in positive nitrogen balance. During the 10-day period, blood chemical concentrations, stool, and/or ostomy volume, urine volume, electrolyte excretion, and calorie and divalent cation absorption were measured. In addition it was determined that fluid restriction during meals did not affect these parameters. In these patients the absorptions of fat, carbohydrate, protein, and total calories were 54%, 61%, 81%, and 62%, respectively. Similarly the absorption of the divalent cations, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, were 32%, 34%, and 15%, respectively. We suggest that patients with short bowel syndrome, who have been stable for at least one year and who can tolerate oral diets, do not need to restrict fat or to separate fluids from solids during their meals. Furthermore, they should increase their oral intake to 35-40 kcal/kg ideal body weight in order to counteract their increased losses. The diet should contain 80-100 g protein/day in order to maintain a positive nitrogen balance and a large margin of safety. In addition, these patients may take oral supplementation of calcium, magnesium, and zinc to maintain divalent cation balance.