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Certain agents that increase drug delivery through the skin, including surfactants, bile salts, and fatty acids, have been shown to exert a similar effect on the buccal mucosa. These agents enhance skin permeability by interacting with and disrupting the ordered intercellular lipid lamellae within the keratinized stratum corneum, and it has been assumed that a similar mechanism of action occurs in the nonkeratinized buccal mucosa. However, the chemical and structural nature of the lipids present within the intercellular regions of the buccal mucosa is quite different to that found within the stratum corneum, and so extrapolation of results between these two tissues may be misleading. To assume that the mechanism of action of buccal penetration enhancers is based on the disruption of intercellular lipids may be erroneous, and may result in the inappropriate prediction that certain skin penetration enhancers will similarly enhance drug delivery through the buccal mucosa. The data available in the literature suggest that agents that enhance buccal penetration exert their effect by a mechanism other than by disruption of intercellular lipids. Rather, buccal penetration enhancement appears to result from agents being able to (a) increase the partitioning of drugs into the buccal epithelium, (b) extract (and not disrupt) intercellular lipids, (c) interact with epithelial protein domains, and/or (d) increase the retention of drugs at the buccal mucosal surface. The purpose of this review is to identify the major differences in the structural and chemical nature of the permeability barriers between the buccal mucosa and skin, to clarify the mechanisms of action of buccal penetration enhancers, and to identify the limitations of certain models that are used to assess the effect of buccal penetration enhancers.