A genetically conditioned mouse model of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (epi) has been used to study the effect of the absence of lumenal proteases on small intestinal mucosal proteins. The small bowel was divided into eight equal segments. Enzyme activity was increased only in the first three segments in the case of maltase, sucrase, and lactase (all mol wt above 200,000). Alkaline phosphatase (mol wt 145,000), trehalase (mol wt 95,000), and peptidase (mol wt 175,000) activities were unaffected in proximal segments from epi mice. Proximal brush border proteins were identified and measured quantitatively by sodium dodecyl sulfate acrylamide gel electrophoresis. Those enzymes with increased activity were associated with increased amounts of protein in epi mice. Double labeled studies of protein turnover revealed a longer half-life for large brush border proteins (mol wt above 175,000) in epi mice than in normal mice. Enterokinase activity (a marker for duodenal mucosa) was nearly absent from the duodenum of epi mice. Receptors for the intrinsic factor-vitamin B12 complex (markers for ileal mucosa) were present in the ileum equally in normal and in epi mice. Enterokinase activity can be induced in epi mice by feeding its substrate trypsinogen, but not by trypsin or chymotrypsinogen. Epi mice thus retain the ability to synthesize enterokinase. Pancreatic proteases play an important role in the turnover of certain large mucosal proteins and in the induction of enterokinase.