We estimated in vivo turnover rates of sucrase-isomaltase and lactase-phlorizin hydrolase in adult rats. Fed animals received a primed continuous infusion of phenylalanine (300 microCi, 150 mumol Phe/100 g of body weight for 30 s, then 7.5 microCi, 3.75 mumol Phe/min for 10 to 140 min). Sucrase-isomaltase and lactase-phlorizin hydrolase were immunoprecipitated from jejunal mucosal membranes; isoforms were separated by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Endoglycosidase H digestions and (for lactase-phlorizin hydrolase) N-terminal amino acid sequencing were performed on all isoforms. Specific radioactivity of prosucrase-isomaltase and prolactase-phlorizin hydrolase isoforms reached isotopic equilibrium by 60 and 90 min, respectively. Specific radioactivity of brush border sucrase and lactase did not reach steady state. The isotope kinetic, N-terminal amino acid sequencing, and endoglycosidase H digestion data suggested that one of the high molecular weight lactase isoforms is a dimer of mature lactase. Compartmental modeling of specific radioactivity demonstrated that mean intracellular residence time is 59 min for prosucrase-isomaltase isoforms and 68 min for prolactase-phlorizin hydrolase isoforms. Mean residence time in the brush border was 5.8 h for sucrase and 7.8 h for lactase. Fractional synthesis rates were 414%/day for sucrase and 307%/day for lactase. Thus, in vivo brush border sucrase and lactase turn over at similar rates in the adult rat.