Effects of 60 and 120 minutes of in-vitro ischaemia on the localization of xanthine oxidase activity were studied in rat intestine and liver. A histochemical method was applied on unfixed cryostat sections using a semipermeable membrane. The incubation medium contained hypoxanthine as substrate, cerium ions which capture the enzyme product, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium azide to inhibit catalase and peroxidase activities. In a second step reaction diaminobenzidine was polymerized in the presence of cobalt ions and hydrogen peroxide by decomposition of cerium perhydroxide. Large amounts of final reaction product were found in the cytoplasm of enterocytes and goblet cells of control small intestine. When the incubation was performed in the absence of substrate or in the presence of substrate and allopurinol, a specific inhibitor of xanthine oxidase activity, no reaction product was found. After 60 and 120 minutes of storage of tissue blocks at 37 degrees C enzyme activity was significantly reduced in the apical region of epithelial cells, whereas a high activity was present in the basal region of these cells. A very low xanthine oxidase activity was found in rat liver. Highest activity was present in endothelial cells, whereas in liver parenchymal cells, a more pronounced activity was found in pericentral than in periportal hepatocytes. Ischaemia up to 120 minutes did not affect the enzyme activity in livers. It was concluded that increased xanthine oxidase activity during ischaemia may not be responsible for cell damage during reperfusion in contrast with assumptions in the literature.