Species-specific differences in the enzymatic inactivation of peptides is an important consideration in the evaluation of therapeutic efficacy. We demonstrate that glucagon-like peptide 2 (GLP-2), shown to be highly intestinotrophic in mice, promotes an increase in intestinal villus height but has no trophic effect on small bowel weight in rats. The reduced intestinotrophic activity of GLP-2 in rats is attributable to inactivation by the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV). GLP-2(1-33) was degraded to GLP-2(3-33) following incubation with human placental DPP-IV or rat serum but not by serum from DPP-IV-deficient rats. Administration of rat GLP-2 to DPP-IV-deficient rats was associated with markedly increased bioactivity of rat GLP-2 resulting in a significant increase in small bowel weight. A synthetic GLP-2 analog, r[Gly2]GLP-2, with an alanine to glycine substitution at position 2, was resistant to cleavage by both DPP-IV and rat serum in vitro. Treatment of wild-type rats with r[Gly2]GLP-2 produced a statistically significant increase in small bowel mass. DPP-IV-mediated inactivation of GLP-2 is a critical determinant of the growth factor-like properties of GLP-2.