The excretion of starch, enzyme-resistant starch, dietary fiber components and organic acids (short-chain fatty acids plus lactic acid) as well as plasma and urine lignans and isoflavonoids was studied in eight ileostomists consuming mixed diets with wheat bread (low fiber diet) or rye bread (high fiber diet) in a crossover design. Average ileal excretions of enzyme-available starch were 3.5 g/d during the low fiber period and 4.1 g/d during the high fiber period. The excretion of enzyme-resistant starch was approximately the same (2.3 g/d) in both periods. In comparison with intake, similar amounts of total fiber residues were excreted both by subjects receiving the low fiber diet (3.4 g/d) and by those receiving the high fiber diet (2.7 g/d). However, subjects excreted significantly more of certain polysaccharide residues (fucose, galactose, and uronic acids) than they ingested. On average, the excretion of organic acids was 18.6 mmol/d during the low fiber period and 30.2 mmol/d during the high fiber period. No significant differences in plasma lignans were observed between the high fiber and the low fiber dietary periods. The present findings indicate that enzyme-available starch is highly digested and that a microbial breakdown of dietary fibers and probably other carbohydrates occurs in the small intestine. However, the bacterial activity in the ileostomists was not sufficient to cause an increased level in plasma lignans even when subjects consumed the high fiber rye diet.