Following massive small bowel resection, the remaining intestine adapts to compensate for lost absorptive capacity. Although the Na+/glucose cotransporter plays a critical role in nutrient, fluid, and electrolyte transport in the small intestine, its role in adaptation following resection has not been defined. To examine this, we sought to determine whether there were changes in the expression of the Na+/glucose cotransporter, SGTL1, at the messenger RNA level. Lewis rats underwent either transection or 70% small bowel resection and reanastomosis. The animals were sacrificed at intervals following operation. Jejunum proximal to the anastomosis and ileum and colon distal to the anastomosis were harvested and analyzed for Na+/glucose mRNA by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and Southern blot. Blots were semiquantitated by 32P labeling and standardized to beta-actin. Histologic sections and analysis of DNA, RNA, and protein content revealed hyperplastic changes. Following resection, mRNA for the Na+/glucose cotransporter in the jejunum increased significantly (P < 0.05) by 1 week and remained elevated. In the ileum, an almost fivefold increase occurred at 6 hr and persisted throughout the study (P < 0.05). The early response was greater in the ileum, distal to the reanastomosis, than that in the jejunum (P < 0.05). In contrast, there was no change in the small amount of transporter mRNA detected in the colon. These results suggest that, in addition to mucosal hyperplasia, the intestinal response to resection involves upregulation of transporter mRNA by the individual enterocyte. This transcriptional increase in the Na+/glucose cotransporter appears to be an early response by the intestine and may be important in maintaining overall intestinal transport capacity following resection.