Three castrated male Holstein cattle (423 (SD 19) kg live weight) fitted with elevated carotid artery, portal, and mesenteric venous catheters, and abomasal and ileal cannulas were used to study small-intestinal starch digestion. The cattle were infused abomasally with water (275 ml/h), glucose (66 g/h), maize dextrin (66 g/h) or maize starch (66 g/h) in an incomplete Latin square design, with eight infusion periods. Infusion with carbohydrate resulted in higher arterial glucose concentrations and greater net portal glucose flux than when cattle were infused with water. Arterial glucose concentration and net portal glucose flux were highest when glucose was infused. In the small intestine, 85% of abomasally infused glucose, 78% of infused dextrin, and 66% of infused starch disappeared. Of the carbohydrate that disappeared in the small intestine, that which could be accounted for as net portal glucose flux was 73% for glucose, 60% for dextrin, and 57% for starch. Ileal digesta contained unpolymerized glucose, and short-chain soluble α-glucoside. Of the infused dextrin flowing past the ileum (14 g/h), 0·3 g/h was glucose, 6·2 g/h was soluble α-glucoside, and 7·5 g/h was insoluble α-glucoside. Of the infused starch flowing at the ileum (22·2 g/h), 0-9 g/h was glucose, 5·3 g/h was soluble α-glucoside, and 15·9 g/h was insoluble α-glucoside. The average chain lengths of the soluble α-glucosides in ileal digesta were 2·07 and 2·36 for dextrin and starch infusions respectively, indicating mostly di- and to a lesser extent trisaccharides. We conclude that (1) when 66 g raw starch is presented to the small intestine per h, about half of the intestinal disappearance appears as glucose in the portal vasculature, and (2) α-1,4 glucosidase (EC 188.8.131.52) activity at the brush border is the rate-limiting step to small-intestinal starch digestion in cattle.