Intestinal ischemia necessitates rapid re-establishment of blood flow to prevent irreversible anoxic tissue damage. However, reperfusion results in additional injury as a consequence of the generation of oxygen free radicals. To date, no clear-cut marker to differentiate between ischemia versus reperfusion injury is available. In this regard, previous studies from our laboratory utilizing a rat in vitro lipid peroxidation model demonstrated that the generation of free radicals resulted in the inactivation of only the intestinal brush border alkaline phosphatase enzyme, with no effect on other membrane-bound digestive enzymes. Current studies were designed to assess the possibility of alkaline phosphatase being a specific marker of the reperfusion injury in canine and human ex vivo ischemia/reperfusion models. Small bowels harvested from canines and organ donors were subjected to ischemia followed by reperfusion. Brush border membrane enzymes, alkaline phosphatase, sucrase, maltase, and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase were assayed in mucosal extracts from intestines with ischemia versus reperfusion. In both experimental models, there was no change in any enzyme activity with warm ischemia alone. In contrast, alkaline phosphatase activity was significantly decreased in both the canine and human reperfusion models, with no change in specific activities of sucrase, maltase, and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase. Our data indicate that the alkaline phosphatase enzyme activity may represent a potential marker of intestinal reperfusion injury and may permit quantitative assessments of therapeutic interventions in human intestinal reperfusion injury.