1. The changes in the solubility of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in digesta flowing along the intestinal tract and the net movement across the intestinal wall of these elements were determined in six rams, each equipped with three T-shaped cannulas; cannulas were placed in a total of six different sites of the small intestine. Cr2O3 was used as a marker substance to measure the rate of flow of the digesta.
2. The concentrations of soluble Ca, Mg and P decreased as digesta moved along the intestine. The greatest fall in soluble Ca occurred after the first 3 m of the intestine, while a significant decrease in soluble Mg was found only at 15 and 25 m from the pylorus. The concentration of soluble P in digesta decreased until the 7 m site and then remained stable. In the faeces, the level of soluble Mg was approximately 4 times higher than, and that of Ca equal to, the levels of Mg and Ca found in digesta flowing through the upper intestine. Unlike Ca and Mg, a very low concentration of soluble P was found in the faeces.
3. In the duodenum, 84, 78 and 62% of the total Ca, Mg and P respectively were soluble, whereas in the digesta flowing through the terminal ileum the corresponding values were 3·2, 7·2 and 19% for Ca, Mg and P respectively.
4. The forestomachs and the colon were found to be the main sites of Mg net absorption; 1·12 mmol/h was apparently absorbed from the stomach and 1·05 mmol/h from the colon. The upper small intestine (1–3 m from the pylorus) appeared to be the major site of Ca and P absorption.
5. In the last 10 m of the small intestine, considerable amounts of minerals were secreted; 4·70, 0·96 and 1·85 mmol Ca, Mg and P/h respectively were added to the digesta flowing between 15 and 25 m from the pylorus. The effect of the increase in the pH of digesta along the small intestine on the solubility of these minerals is discussed.