Uptake and release of acridine orange (AO), a fluorescent weak base that accumulates in acidic spaces, were studied in perfused frog gastric mucosa. Tissue was mounted between two flow-through chambers and loaded with AO on the mucosal side. AO washout and acid secretion rate were monitored simultaneously by a flow-through fluorescence detector and a pH-stat, respectively. Data were displayed on a computer screen, stored, and analyzed. AO, in concentrations as high as 0.02 mM, does not affect the acid secretion rate. Nonlinear least-squares analysis of AO washout curves resolved two exponential components: a faster component associated mainly with AO washout from the chamber and a slower component reflecting primarily AO washout from the tissue. The slower exponential declines more slowly at higher concentrations and/or longer duration of AO loading, whereas the faster exponential is unaffected. AO washout is unaffected by the level of the steady-state acid secretion rate. Nitrite inhibits the acid secretion rate but does not affect the AO washout. When nitrite is removed, acid secretion rate and fluorescence (AO concentration in the mucosal medium) increase simultaneously and transiently. The net amount of AO released from the tissue is proportional to the net amount of acid released. Stimulation by secretagogue in basally secreting tissue causes synchronous transient increases in acid secretion rate and fluorescence. We conclude that accumulation of AO provides evidence for the existence of an intracellular storage pool of free protons within the transporting epithelium.