Five to 20 mg of saponins obtained from alfalfa tops or roots were introduced intragastrically in rats also receiving oral and intravenous ring-labeled cholesterol. The saponins were tested before and after partial acid hydrolysis. Absorption of cholesterol was determined by estimation of fecal sterols and by a dual isotope technique involving assay of plasma radioactivity. Alfalfa top saponins (nonhydrolyzed) reduced absorption of cholesterol. Acid hydrolysis of alfalfa top or root saponins enhanced their ability to inhibit cholesterol absorption.