The effects of polyethylene glycol 20000 (PEG 20000) on the intestinal absorption of prednisolone, methylprednisolone and quinidine, three P-glycoprotein (P-gp) substrates, across the isolated rat intestinal membranes were examined by an in-vitro diffusion chamber system. The serosal-tomucosal (secretory) transport of these P-gp substrates was greater than their mucosal-to-serosal (absorptive) transport, indicating that their net movement across the intestinal membranes was preferentially in the secretory direction. The polarized secretory transport of these drugs was remarkably diminished and their efflux ratios decreased in the presence of PEG 20000. In addition, PEG 20000 did not affect the transport of Lucifer yellow, a non-P-gp substrate. The intestinal membrane toxicity of PEG 20000 was evaluated by measuring the release of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and protein from the intestinal membranes. The release of ALP and protein was enhanced in the presence of 20 mm sodium deoxycholate (NaDC), a positive control, while these biological parameters did not change in the presence of 0.1-5% (w/v) PEG 20000. These findings indicated that the intestinal membrane damage caused by PEG 20000 was not a main reason for the enhanced absorptive transport of these P-gp substrates in the presence of PEG 20000. Furthermore, the transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) of rat jejunal membranes in the presence or absence of PEG 20000 was measured by a diffusion chamber method. PEG 20000 (0.1-5.0 % w/v) did not change the TEER values of the rat jejunal membranes, indicating that the increase in the absorptive transport of these P-gp substrates might not be due to the increased transport of these P-gp substrates via a paracellular pathway caused by PEG 20000. Finally, the effect of PEG 20000 on the intestinal absorption of quinidine was examined by an in-situ closed-loop method. The intestinal absorption of quinidine was significantly enhanced in the presence of 0.1-1.0% (w/v) PEG 20000. These findings suggest that PEG 20000 might be a useful excipient to improve the intestinal absorption of quinidine, which is mainly secreted by a P-gp-mediated efflux system in the intestine.