To study albumin absorption by the gallbladder in man, an in vitro model was first established in the pig and compared with in vivo function in the same species. Water and electrolyte transport and 125I‐albumin absorption and protein secretion in vivo and in vitro were compared. Then similar in vitro studies were performed on human gallbladders obtained at surgery. The in vivo study in the pig was performed without disturbing the gallbladder except to tie a cannula in the cystic duct end. The in vitro model was identical in the pig and human gallbladders. Gallbladders were excised using a technique causing minimal injury and anoxia. They were oxygenated on both mucosal and serosal surfaces in a temperature‐controlled environment. Luminal and external bath test solutions consisted of modified Ringers bicarbonate with added glucose; luminal solutions also contained 125I‐albumin from different species, depending on the study. Active absorption of sodium and water occurred in both types of studies in the pig but in vivo absorption rates were considerably greater than in vitro rates. Albumin absorption in vivo was substantial; although present in vitro, the absorption of albumin was diminished relatively more than electrolyte transport rates. Protein secretion rates into the gallbladder were similar in vitro and in vivo. The results of studies in the human gallbladders in vitro were similar to the pig, except albumin absorption was greater. Some human gallbladders were obtained from control patients and some from patients with cholesterol gallstones. There were no significant differences between the two groups for any of the variables studied; however, the numbers were small and some control gallbladders were not normal gallbladders. (HEPATOLOGY 1990;12:729–737).