Although total parenteral nutrition prevents patients with short bowel syndrome from dying of starvation, having short bowel remains a severely debilitating condition. The best current treatment for inadequate absorptive surface area is through intestinal transplantation. However, this therapy is associated with significant morbidity and patients suffer from consequences of long-term immunosuppression. Additionally, the numbers of organs are limited. A new frontier in medicine is the field of tissue engineering. We will review the progress of intestinal bioengineering with a focus on the use of animal models. Investigators initially used autologous tissue as a patch to study intestinal regeneration. Subsequent studies focused on the use of absorbable biomaterials as a patch for tissue ingrowth. The most novel methodology consists of seeding a resorbable scaffold and implanting this construct to observe the regeneration of neointestine. Successful creation of esophagus, stomach, small bowel and colon has been demonstrated. Although these studies are preliminary, the results suggest that tissue-engineered intestine will become a real therapeutic option in the not too distant future for patients with inadequate intestinal tissue. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.