The first part of this report describes the development of a technique for evaluating the growth of rotavirus under controlled conditions that approximate a natural infection. A standard dose of rotavirus (approximately 10(9) viral particles) was injected into ligated segments in the small intestine of newborn, agammaglobulinemic, colostrum-deprived piglets. After various periods postinoculation, the segments were retrieved and the enterocytes were evaluated for the presence of rotaviral antigens by immunofluorescence and rotaviral particles by transmission electron microscopy. Peak immunofluorescence in enterocytes was detected at 8 h postinoculation in the upper and middle jejunum and ileum. Transmission electron microscopy at this time revealed fully formed virions which were not seen in sections examined before this 8-h period. The second part of our study describes the use of ligated segments in determining the susceptibility to rotavirus of enterocytes in piglets ranging in age from newborn to 2 weeks. By the time piglets were 2 days old, enterocytes in the upper half of the small intestines appeared to be resistant to rotavirus, whereas those in the lower half seemed partially resistant. Between 4 and 8 days of age, enterocytes in the lower half also became resistant. Resistance paralleled the loss in capacity of piglets to transport macromolecules through enterocytes and was not correlated with the loss in capacity to internalize macromolecules.