The proximal intestine of neonatal rats expresses a specific receptor (RFcn) that binds immunoglobulin G (IgG) and is no longer expressed after weaning. The aim of this study was to quantify and compare the intestinal transport and processing of IgG in intestinal fragments with or without RFcn, with the fluid-phase transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). The mucosal to serosal transport and degradation of IgG and HRP were measured in neonatal and adult rats in vitro in Ussing chambers. IgG transcytosis occurred without degradation in the proximal intestine of neonatal rats, where RFcn is expressed, up to a luminal concentration of 300 micrograms/ml. At higher mucosal IgG concentrations, a degradative pathway was also involved. The immunoreactive IgG fluxes across the proximal intestine of neonatal rats were higher than those observed in the distal neonatal intestine or those in the proximal and distal adult intestine. The rate of HRP transcytosis was higher than that of IgG but it involved a mainly degradative pathway. These results suggest that in the proximal intestine of the neonatal rat, where RFcn is expressed, the transcytotic rate for IgG is not increased, but the nondegradative transport of immunoreactive IgG is favored, especially at low luminal concentrations.