This study characterizes the substrate metabolism of isolated jejunal epithelial cells. Utilization of substrates was assessed by spectrophotometric assay. Significant quantities of glucose, glutamine, and ketone bodies were consumed in a 1-h period; lactate and ammonia were produced. [U-14C]glucose was metabolized in this medium to approximately three moles of lactate per mole of CO2. The pattern of tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle metabolism was analyzed utilizing media containing different concentrations of potential metabolic substrates and trace quantities of [14C]succinate. O2 consumption rates indicated that glutamine can serve as an energy source in the absence of other substrates. Relative 14CO2 production from [1,4-14C]succinate versus [2,3-14C]succinate, which estimates flux of TCA cycle intermediates to products other than CO2, was increased more than twofold when glutamine was the only major substrate available. Alanine was produced from TCA cycle intermediates. Analysis of the citrate labeling pattern in the presence of [2,3-14C]succinate suggested that carbon from the TCA cycle does not form a significant fraction of acetyl-CoA used for citrate synthesis and that glutamine carbon was not completely oxidized to CO2. These findings suggest that glucose and glutamine are converted to three-carbon compounds by the jejunal epithelium.