Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) infusion, a widely consumed herbal tea, contains significant amounts of polyphenols such as flavone diglucuronides and phenylpropanoid glycosides (mainly verbascoside). We have recently shown that lemon verbena infusion offers beneficial effects against dextran sodium sulphate (DSS)-induced colonic inflammation in rats. The present study aimed to evaluate the bioavailability and intestinal absorption of polyphenols derived from lemon verbena infusion in both healthy and colitic rats. For this purpose, lemon verbena infusion was given to rats ad libitum for 14 d, and then 4 % DSS was added to the infusion for 7 d. Before and after DSS administration, 24 h urinary excretion of polyphenols was determined. Flavones were excreted in the urine as conjugated aglycones, and their excretion was not significantly altered by colonic inflammation. Only trace amounts of verbascoside were excreted in the urine, but various metabolites (hydroxycinnamic acids) were detected. The urinary excretion of hydroxycinnamic acids, particularly that of caffeic acid, increased after DSS administration (P< 0·05). Only flavone aglycones (luteolin and diosmetin) were excreted in the faeces in small proportions (3·2 % of ingested flavones). Intestinal absorption of lemon verbena polyphenols was examined using an in situ intestinal perfusion model. Intestinal absorption of verbascoside and flavone diglucuronides did not significantly differ between the healthy and colitic rats. Collectively, these results show that intestinal absorption and urinary excretion of lemon verbena flavone diglucuronides were not altered by colonic inflammation, but that urinary excretion of hydroxycinnamic acids derived from verbascoside was affected in a colitic situation.