The healthy gastric epithelium will not allow easy permeation of a disaccharide-sized molecule such as sucrose. However, during gastric damage, intact sucrose can pass the gastric epithelium and ultimately appear in the urine. We examined the relationship between total urinary sucrose excretion and various diseases. We used 149 patients (105 had upper gastrointestinal disease, 12 had gastric cancer and 32 were normal). Subjects were given a solution containing 100 g sucrose in 450 c.c. water. All urine was collected for 7.5 h. The urinary sucrose concentration was determined by anion exchange high-performance liquid chromatography. Total urinary sucrose excretion was significantly higher in patients with gastric ulcer and those with gastric cancer than in endoscopically normal controls. In the 34 patients with gastric ulcer, the total sucrose excretion was closely correlated with ulcer size. Ulcer location did not affect urinary sucrose excretion. A strong correlation was also observed between sucrose excretion and lesion size in the 12 patients with gastric cancer. The sucrose per-meability test may be a relatively sensitive method to detect gastric disease.