The physiological importance and mechanism of the postprandial fall in plasma Zn concentration is not well understood. In order to gain further information on this apparent redistribution of plasma Zn, a stable isotope, 70Zn, was used to study the effect of a breakfast meal on plasma Zn kinetics. Nine women participated in two trials, a fasting trial and a breakfast-meal trial; five of the women participated in a third trial in which the energy content of the breakfast meal was doubled. At each trial, 0.1mg of 70Zn was infused intravenously, and the plasma disappearance of the isotope was analysed using a two-compartment model of Zn kinetics. Plasma Zn concentration fell significantly following the two trials in which the subjects were given meals, reaching low points that were 13 and 19 %, respectively, below concentrations at comparable times during the fasting trial. Kinetic analysis revealed that after the doubled breakfast meal there was a significant fall (P < 0.007) in the size of the most rapidly turning over Zn pool (pool (a)) from 2.90 (se 0.13)mg in the fasting state to 2.47 (se 0.14) mg postprandially. The fractional turnover rate of pool (a) to other extravascular Zn pools, i.e. outside the two-compartment system, was also significantly elevated after the doubled breakfast meal (P < 0.05). These results suggest that the decline in plasma Zn concentration following a meal is due to a redistribution of Zn from the plasma to other more slowly turning over extravascular pools that may be involved in the assimilation and metabolism of fuels following food intake.