Human milk is a rich source of RNA, free nucleotides (NT) and nucleosides (NS). To determine the uptake of different NS sources by the intestinal epithelium, jejunal explants from suckling piglets were cultured in a medium supplemented with a mixture of NS (adenosine, cytidine, guanosine, inosine, uridine; 10 mg/l each), a mixture of five NT (AMP, CMP, GMP, IMP, UMP; 7 mg/l each) or RNA (60 mg/l), respectively. Aliquots from the media were taken at different times (0·5, 2, 5, 15, 30, 60, 180 min). NS and NT concentrations were analysed in the different supernatants at those periods using solid-phase extraction followed by HPLC. When explants were cultured in the presence of NS the concentration of these compounds, excepting cytidine, rapidly decreased, suggesting that they are efficiently taken up. When explants were incubated in the presence of NT, the total concentration of these compounds decreased while the total concentration of NS increased, suggesting that enterocytes efficiently hydrolyse NT into NS. Likewise, when explants were incubated in the presence of RNA, the total concentration of both NT and NS increased, indicating that intestinal explants are able to hydrolyse RNA to NT and then to NS in the absence of luminal enzymes. In conclusion, the jejunum of piglets at weaning is able to hydrolyse RNA and free NT to NS, and NS, excepting cytidine, are efficiently taken up by the small intestine. These results suggest that the current concentration of NT used to supplement infant formulas should be reconsidered.