A novel approach is presented herein to study the intestinal absorption of mycotoxins by using a laboratory model that mimics the metabolic processes of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of healthy pigs. This model was used to evaluate the small-intestinal absorption of zearalenone from contaminated wheat (4.1 mg/kg) and the effectiveness of activated carbon and cholestyramine at four inclusion levels (0.25, 0.5, 1 and 2%) in reducing toxin absorption. Approximately 32% of ZEA intake (247 μg) was released from the food matrix during 6 h of digestion and was rapidly absorbed at intestinal level. A significant reduction of intestinal absorption of ZEA was found after inclusion of activated carbon or cholestyramine, even at the lowest dose of adsorbents, with a more pronounced effect exhibited by activated carbon. In particular, when 2% of activated carbon or cholestyramine was added to the meal the ZEA intestinal absorption was lowered from 32% of ZEA intake to 5 and 16%, respectively. The sequestering effect of both adsorbents took place already during the first 2 h of digestion and persisted during the rest of the experiment. The GI-model is a rapid and physiologically relevant method to test the efficacy of adsorbent materials in binding mycotoxins and can be used to pre-screen mycotoxin/adsorbent combinations as an alternative to animal experiments. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.