Flavonoid and isoflavonoid glycosides are common dietary phenolics which may be absorbed from the small intestine of humans. The ability of cell-free extracts from human small intestine and liver to deglycosylate various (iso)flavonoid glycosides was investigated. Quercetin 4'-glucoside, naringenin 7-glucoside, apigenin 7-glucoside, genistein 7-glucoside and daidzein 7-glucoside were rapidly deglycosylated by both tissue extracts, whereas quercetin 3,4'-diglucoside, quercetin 3-glucoside, kaempferol 3-glucoside, quercetin 3-rhamnoglucoside and naringenin 7-rhamnoglucoside remained unchanged. The Km for hydrolysis of quercetin 4'-glucoside and genistein 7-glucoside was approximately 32+/-12 and approximately 14+/-3 microM in both tissues respectively. The enzymatic activity of the cell-free extracts exhibits similar properties to the cytosolic broad-specificity -glucosidase previously described in mammals.