Gastrointestinal absorption of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin was studied in rats in vivo and in situ. Rapid absorption of capsaicin or dihydrocapsaicin from stomach and small intestine occurred in vivo. About 85% of the dose was absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract within 3 hr. In situ, within 60 min after the administration of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin into stomach, jejunum, and ileum, about 50, 80, and 70% of the respective dose had disappeared from the lumen. When 2,4-dinitrophenol or NaCN was added, no significant reduction in uptake of [3H]dihydrocapsaicin was observed in the jejunum. These results suggested that capsaicin and its analogs were absorbed by a nonactive process in jejunum. [3H]Dihydrocapsaicin was mainly absorbed via the portal system but not a mesenteric lymphangial one. The radioactivity in the portal blood was composed of 85% of [3H]dihydrocapsaicin and 15% of its metabolite (8-methyl nonanoic acid) bound to the albumin fraction. Dihydrocapsaicin-hydrolyzing enzyme activity was found in jejunal tissue. These results suggest that capsaicin and its analogs partly received a first-pass effect, i.e., metabolism of a compound following first absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. It is concluded that capsaicin and its analogs are readily transported to the portal vein through the gastrointestinal tract by a nonactive process and partly metabolized during absorption.