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Gut permeability has been studied in patients with either food intolerance or abnormal gut fermentation as well as in normal subjects. Permeability was measured by polyethylene glycol absorption, and the reasons for this choice of probe are discussed. Results show that both symptomatic groups have statistically very highly significant deviations from the normal (P < 0.01), consisting of over-adsorption, significant at molecular weights 242, 286, 330 and 374. Whilst both study groups were different from the normal they were not different from each other. The implications for these findings in the diagnosis and management of food intolerance and abnormal gut fermentation are discussed.