Carcinogenic and other toxic manifestations of areca/betel nut extracts on the buccal cavity and upper digestive tract are well documented. The present study deals with in vivo and in situ effects of aqueous and alcoholic extracts of areca nut on rat intestinal epithelial cell membrane. In vivo daily oral administration by gastric intubation for 1p w produced significant declines in brush border membrane alkaline phosphatase, Ca2+-Mg2+-ATPase, and the digestive enzyme sucrase. The decline in activities were more prominent after 4-w exposures. Instant short term in situ exposure to aqueous extract produced higher enzyme activities, indicating the initial activation of active sites by areca nut extract constituent(s). Significant declines in brush border membrane constituents (total hexose, sialic acid and cholesterol) were also evident following continuous exposures to areca nut extracts. These findings suggest that prolonged chewing of areca nut causes significant alterations in intestinal epithelial cell lining functions and could lead to malabsorption of nutrients.