Many factors potentially influence the digestion, absorption, and metabolism of the various species of sugars occurring in the human diet. Experimental evidence indicates that the source of sugars in foods does not in itself affect the rate of absorption or the metabolism of the sugars. However, the form in which the sugars are ingested and the physical and chemical properties of the food matrices do have significant effects on the rates of absorption. Food matrices influence gastric emptying and through their physical properties affect the rate of transport across the small intestinal mucosa. Disaccharides form the major proportion of ingested carbohydrates in the small intestine and the digestion and transport systems for these sugars, except for lactose, are the most efficient. After absorption, the pathways of the different dietary sugars converge and the original dietary source has only minimal effects on metabolism.