The effect of aging on the intestinal transport of hydrophilic drugs (and probe compounds) was investigated in the rat small intestine. Passive transport was suggested to be unchanged with aging from 8 (young) to 54 (old) and further to 101 (very old) weeks old, as shown for D-xylose and urea in single-pass intestinal perfusion (under urethane anesthesia), where steady-state transport across the intestinal membrane into the blood stream was evaluated. The passive transports of cephradine, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and L-glucose were also unchanged, though they were compared only between the young and the old. Consistently, the passive uptake in the intestinal everted sacs, where the entry process into the membrane was evaluated for 5-FU, D-xylose, urea and polyethylene glycol (PEG) 900, was unchanged with aging from the young to the very old. The carrier-mediated transport of cephradine was also unchanged with aging from the young to the old in perfusion under anesthesia, though that of D-glucose was declined by about 50% with aging from the young to the old and thereafter remained constant in the very old. In perfusion in unanesthetized rats, age independency in passive transport (examined for cephradine, L-glucose and D-xylose) and an age-dependent decline in D-glucose transport were also observed, suggesting that the findings under anesthesia are not qualitatively distorted. These results suggest that, although carrier-mediated transport may moderately decline with aging, the barrier function of the intestinal membrane to passive permeation of hydrophilic drugs (with molecular weight below 1000) may be unaffected by aging, supporting the suggestion from our previous in vivo studies that age-dependent increases in the orally absorbed fraction may be predicted for incompletely absorbed drugs because of delayed intestinal transit rather than increased intestinal transport (membrane permeability).