A comparison has been made of intestinal fluid absorption between male Okamoto spontaneously hypertensive rats (s.h.r.) and normotensive male Wistar controls. S.h.r. show enhanced fluid absorption both in hypertensive adults and in young s.h.r. before hypertension has developed. Several potential causes for increased fluid transport in s.h.r. were tested using pharmacological antagonists. It is unlikely that enhanced fluid absorption is due to high sympathetic nervous activity, the renin-angiotensin system or is secondary to hypertension. Intestine from s.h.r. have a high short-circuit current indicating a change in ion pump activity. These results are discussed in relation to the possible causes of increased fluid (ion) transport by the intestine of s.h.r.