Background. Massive small bowel resection (SBR) increases rates of both enterocyte proliferation and apoptosis. Previous studies have demonstrated increased intestinal expression of proapoptotic bax mRNA and protein, as well as the appearance of an 18-kd bax cleavage product within 12 hours of SBR. This study tested the hypothesis that bax is required far postresection increases in enterocyte apoptosis. Methods. Male bax-null and C57Bl/6 (control) mice underwent either a 50% proximal SBR or sham operation. After 3 days, the remnant ileum was harvested and weighed. Apoptotic indexes, proliferation indexes, villus heights, and crypt depths were determined. Results. The usual adaptive increases in ileal wet weight, crypt depth, and rate of proliferation occurred in both the control and bax-null mice. Resection significantly increased the rate of apoptosis in the control mice; however, it failed to alter the apoptotic index in the bax-null mice. Conclusions. Bax is necessary far the increase in apoptosis that occurs after SBR, but its absence has no significant effect on short-term adaptation. These findings suggest that enterocyte proliferation and apoptosis are differentially regulated during intestinal adaptation.