Intact male and female albino rats fed a vitamin K-deficient diet develop a plasma prothrombin-proconvertin deficiency. Male rats respond with a precipitous drop to approximately 20-30% of normal plasma levels within 2-5 days, whereas female rats respond at a slower rate. Ethynylestradiol, 5-10 mug/day, or castration, reduces the progressive decline of plasma prothrombin-proconvertin seen in nonsupplemented intact male rats. The response of castrate females differs little from the response of intact females. Ethynylestradiol, 5-10 mug/day, affects both castrate males and females similarly, limiting the prothrombin-proconvertin decrease to about 13% below control value after 14 days. Intestinal absorption of vitamin K1 measured in the thoracic duct lymph of pentobarbital-anesthetized castrate male and female rats was shown to increase significantly after estrogen treatment. Estrogen-treated castrate male and female rats absorbed 25.8 mug and 11.8 mug vitamin K1, respectively. Nontreated control castrate male and female rats absorbed 0.0 mug and 1.2 mug, respectively, during a 240-min collection period. Use of radioactive vitamin K1 in similar experiments confirmed these results. Estrogen-treated castrate males absorbed vitamin K1 at the rate of 30-40 mug/g lymph whereas nontreated control males absorbed only about 6 mug/g lymph.