1. In a series of experiments with cannulated lambs the amounts of 2, 6-diaminopimelic acid (DAPA) and a-amino nitrogen passing daily through the abomasum, terminal ileum and rectum were measured. While there was a very significant net absorption of α-amino nitrogen between the abomasum and terminal ileum, there was no net absorption of DAPA between these points. Indeed, there was a tendency for more DAPA to leave the terminal ileum than entered the abomasum, though this was only significant at the 10% level. In all cases significantly less DAPA passed out of the rectum than passed through the terminal ileum, indicating extensive degradation of this amino acid in the hind-gut, probably as a result of microbial activity.
2. In adult sheep given control rations no DAPA could be detected in the blood, even when 643 ml plasma were analysed. These sheep usually excreted less than 5 mg DAPA daily in the urine.
3. When synthetic DAPA was introduced into the peritoneum, blood, abomasum, rumen or caecum of cannulated adult sheep in physiological amounts, approximately 80, 83, 53, 5 and 0 % of the administered dose was recovered in the urine. Furthermore, when introduced into the abomasum, DAPA could be measured in plasma from the anterior mesenteric and jugular veins.
4. It was concluded that in the normal sheep the DAPA-containing fraction of the bacterial cell-wall material synthesized in the rumen is not digested in the small intestine. In the caecum and colon, however, this fraction is extensively degraded by hindgut bacteria.