Advances in the study of membrane digestion are described which relate to techniques for the separation of the apical glycocalyx and the study of the distribution of enzymes between the latter and the cell membrane. The regulatory properties of brush border enzymes have been demonstrated. Membrane digestion by pancreatic enzymes adsorbed on the mucosal surface and by enteric enzymes predominates in early development, whereas intraluminal digestion develops during the transition to definitive (adult) nutrition. Substrate and other, non-substrate factors are involved in the regulation of intraluminal and membrane digestion in ontogeny. The importance of lipid components of the diet for the maintenance of proximal-distal gradients of enzyme activity in the small intestine during the transition from milk to adult nutrition is discussed. At this period of development hydrocortisone affects both the synthesis of enzymes and their incorporation into the enterocyte membrane. The inducibility of different enzymes is not identical. The hypothesis has been proposed that stress is one of the factors inducing or repressing the synthesis of brush border enzymes. These effects are mediated through the hypothalamus, adrenals, hypophysis and thyroid. The experimental findings demonstrate that various stressors are responsible for the induction of sucrase, maltases, gamma-amylase, peptidases and alkaline phosphatase, and for the repression of lactase in suckling rats.