The distribution of glucuronidation capacity along the rat intestine was investigated using mucosal cells, isolated from the small intestine, the caecum, and the colon plus rectum. The glucuronidation capacity for 1-naphthol decreases from 787 +/- 75 (duodenum) to 128 +/- 13 (colon plus rectum) pmoles/min X mg cell protein. The ratio between 1-naphthol and morphine glucuronidation was constant throughout the intestine (7.15 +/- 0.37). The distribution of maximal activity of UDP-glucuronosyltransferase in intestinal cell homogenates follows the same pattern. The maximal activity of UDPglucose dehydrogenase in homogenates corresponds closely to the glucuronidation rate in mucosal cells. The activity of beta-glucuronidase in intestinal cell homogenates is constant along the duodenum and jejunum but increases throughout the terminal ileum, caecum, colon and rectum. Subcellular fractionation studies using marker enzymes indicate that UDPglucose dehydrogenase and beta-glucuronidase are cytosolic enzymes in intestinal mucosal cells. Although UDP-glucuronosyltransferase activity is found in both the mitochondrial and the microsomal fractions, no indications for a mitochondrial localization of this enzyme can be found. Activity in the mitochondrial fraction appears to be due to endoplasmic reticulum, associated with the mitochondrial fraction.