During diabetes, structural and functional changes in the alimentary tract are known to take place resulting in an increased absorption of intestinal glucose and alterations in the activities of brush-border disaccharidases. To elucidate the effect of administrating polysaccharide from Gynura divaricata (PGD) on disaccharidase activities, the specific activities of intestinal disaccharidases, namely sucrase, maltase and lactase, were measured in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Normal control and diabetic rats were treated by oral administration with PGD. Specific activities of intestinal disaccharidases were increased significantly during diabetes, and amelioration of the activities of sucrase and maltase during diabetes was clearly visible by the treatment with PGD. However, the increased activity of lactase during diabetes mellitus was remarkably alleviated by the administration of PGD only in the duodenum. Meanwhile, oral sucrose tolerance tests demonstrated that PGD alleviated the hyperglycaemia during diabetes mellitus, resulting from the amelioration in the activities of intestinal disaccharidases. The present investigation suggests that PGD exerted an anti-diabetic effect partly via inhibiting the increased intestinal disaccharidase activities of diabetic rats. This beneficial influence of administration of PGD on intestinal disaccharidases clearly indicates their helpful role in the management of diabetes.