Non-physiological amounts of oral polyamines have been reported to induce precocious gut maturation in rat pups. The aim of the present study was to investigate organ distribution and metabolic fate of orally administered stable-isotopically labelled polyamines in rat pups. Pups received tetradeuterium-labelled putrescine (Pu-d4; 3 μmol), spermidine (Sd-d4; 5 μmol), spermine (Sp-d4; 3 μmol), or physiological saline twice daily on postnatal days 7–10 or 12–15. They were killed on days 10 and 15. We determined activities of ileal lactase (EC 18.104.22.168), maltase (EC 22.214.171.124), sucrase (EC 126.96.36.199) and diamine oxidase (EC 188.8.131.52) and established villus and crypt lengths. Polyamines and their labelling percentages in organs were determined by GC and mass fragmentography. Treatments did not affect growth rate, but caused lower weights of liver, kidneys and heart. Maltase activity increased, lactase decreased, whereas sucrase and diamine oxidase did not change. Villus and crypt lengths increased. Organ polyamine pools were labelled to different extents. Irrespective of the orally administered polyamine, all organs contained Pu-d4, Sd-d4 and Sp-d4. Administered Pu-d4 and Sd-d4 were recovered mainly as Sd-d4, whereas Sp-d4 was recovered as Sp-d4 and Sd-d4. Total polyamines in a caecum, colon and erythrocytes increased, but increases were only to a minor extent with regard to labelled polyamines. Our data confirm precocious gut maturation by exogenous polyamines. Putrescine appears to be the limiting factor. The exogenous polyamines were distributed among all investigated organs. They are not only used for the synthesis of higher polyamines, but also retroconverted to their precursors. Changes in erythrocyte polyamine contents suggest precocious stimulation of erythropoiesis.