Abstract The behaviour of the activity of tissue transglutaminase, a calcium-dependent enzyme, and the levels of polyamines, which are physiological substrates for the enzyme, were studied in rat small intestine induced to grow by lectin phytohaemagglutinin. Transglutaminase activity greatly increased in the homogenates and the cytosolic fractions of the intestinal mucosa of lectin-treated rats compared to that of untreated animals. The measurement of enzyme activity in the presence of monodansylcadaverine, a competitive inhibitor of transglutaminase, testified that the assayed enzyme activity was authentic transglutaminase. As regards polyamines, the level of spermine did not change, whereas putrescine and spermidine contents were enhanced. The activation of transglutaminase, which was probably due to Ca 2+ accumulation in enterocytes, could have a role in maintaining enterocyte adhesion and intestinal cell homeostasis, and/or repairing lectin-induced damages of microvilli of the gut epithelium.