Although gut permeability increases and bacterial translocation occurs under certain pathological conditions, it remains unknown whether gut absorptive capacity (GAC) is altered early after the onset of sepsis. The aim of the present study was to investigate this and also to determine whether diltiazem has any effect on GAC in early sepsis. Rats were lightly anesthetized and cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) was performed. A nasogastric tube was inserted, cannulation of various blood vessels was carried out, and the animals were allowed to recover from anesthesia. One hour after CLP, one group of animals received a 1-ml bolus of normal saline intravenously, and another group received diltiazem, 400 μg/kg body wt. Sham animals had no CLP performed. GAC was determined by the D-xylose absorption test at 2 and 4 h after CLP. One hour after the administration of D-xylose via the nasogastric tube, its concentration in portal blood was determined colorimetrically. Results show that GAC is significantly depressed at 2 and 4 h after CLP despite the maintenance of normal blood pressure, central venous pressure, and portal pressure. Administration of diltiazem restored GAC to normal levels at 4 h after CLP. Thus diltiazem is a useful adjuvant in the treatment of sepsis because it restores gut absorptive capacity to normal and allows for early enteral nutrition.