The intestinal mucosa is in a steady state of turnover as the rate of cellular proliferation is balanced by the rate of cell death. Although it is accepted that adaptation after small bowel resection (SBR) results in increased proliferation, its effect on apoptosis is not known. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of adaptation following SBR on rates of enterocyte apoptosis. Male ICR mice underwent either 50% proximal SBR or sham operation (bowel transection/reanastomosis). After 12 and 24 hours, and 3 and 7 days, rates of proliferation were measured in the ileum as the percentage of crypt cells incorporating bromodeoxyuridine. Apoptosis was quantitated by end labeling of DNA strand breaks and propidium iodide staining of the number of apoptotic bodies per crypt and villus. Significant increases in enterocyte proliferation (30% to 40%) as well as apoptosis (57% to 87%) occurred at all time points following SBR when compared with sham-operated mice. Adaptation following SBR increases both the rate of enterocyte proliferation and the rate of apoptosis. Understanding the pathophysiology of intestinal adaptation and therapeutic interventions designed to augment this important response will require complete characterization of their effects on both proliferation and apoptosis.