1. In the first part of the study, the absorption of lactitol, a new disaccharide analogue of lactose, was studied using an in vivo jejunal perfusion technique in man. Intestinal uptake of lactitol from isotonic solutions containing 10, 30, 60, and 100 mmol lactitol/l was insignificant.
2. In the second part of the study the laxative threshold of lactitol was determined and compared with that of sorbitol in a double-blind, randomized, cross-over study on twenty-one normal subjects. Laxative threshold was considered to be either the maximum dose tolerated without unacceptable diarrhoea or gastrointestinal side effects, or when the maximum dose in the study was reached. Increasing amounts of lactitol, sorbitol or placebo were administered in two divided doses each day until subjects developed diarrhoea or severe gastrointestinal side effects. The laxative threshold of lactitol (74 (SE 5) g/d) was similar to that of sorbitol (71 (SE 5) g/d).
3. These findings indicate that lactitol is not absorbed by the human small intestine. Although diarrhoea or other gastrointestinal side effects occurred as the dose was increased, 40 g lactitol/d was well tolerated.