Two experiments were carried out to examine the short (1-3 d) and medium (14 d) term adaptations of rat large-bowel (LB) fermentation to alterations in substrate supply brought about by including cooked haricot beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) in diets based on white bread. Changes in organic matter (OM) flow from the ileum occurred within 1 d and were stable for 14 d but the pattern of caecal short-chain fatty acids took much longer to stabilize with considerable increases in butyrate between 1 and 3 d and up to 14 d. This suggests that the metabolic activity of the LB microflora may take a considerable time to stabilize after an abrupt change in substrate supply. Despite an almost fourfold change in OM supply to the LB, the proportion of this OM apparently fermented in that organ (0.46) remained fairly constant. None of the apparent resistant starch measured in the diets could be detected in faeces. Dietary non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) were extensively fermented with similar values (0.82) for both bread and bean NSP and there was little indication of any interaction between the two diet components on NSP fermentation. An attempt was made to fractionate ileal and faecal OM to provide a basis for a quantitative model of LB stoichiometry.