We previously reported that intestinal apo B48 synthesis in the rat was unaltered by dietary triglyceride intake but demonstrated regulation in response to biliary lipid availability. Studies are now presented in which the mechanisms underlying biliary lipid dependent expression of intestinal apo B48 synthesis have been investigated further. Bile salt replacement was effective in a dose- and structure-dependent manner in reexpressing intestinal apo B48 synthesis after prolonged bile diversion. Further experiments suggested that this effect of bile salt may be related to facilitated uptake of fatty acid. A role for mucosal phospholipid flux was suggested by studied in which infusion of lysolecithin, with or without Na taurocholate, produced complete reexpression of apo B48 synthesis in jejunal enterocytes. Over a four- to sixfold range of apo B 48 synthesis rates in both jejunum and ileum, there was no change in apo B B mRNA size or abundance as determined by RNA blot hybridization. Analysis of both intestinal mucosa and microsomal lipid content in a variety of settings revealed that apo B48 synthesis rates were correlated with microsome triglyceride fatty acid content (r = 0.65, P < 0.005) but not free fatty acid or phospholipid content. These studies demonstrate a physiologic role for elements of biliary lipid flux in the regulation of apo B gene expression. The data suggest that an integrated mechanism may exist whereby apo B48 synthesis is related to microsome triglyceride flux, particularly at low levels of lumenal substrate availability.