During different stages of lactation, different requirements of calcium have to be met depending on the milk amount. Vitamin D receptors (VDR) regulate calcium homeostasis by increasing the entry of Ca into blood from bone stores and dietary sources. The purpose of this study was to investigate if age and breed of cows influence VDR amounts across different segments of the gastrointestinal tract. Thirty-six cows were used (18 Brown Swiss, 18 Holstein Friesan, both > 5.5 years or < 4.5 years). Tissue specimens of the intestines were collected from the cows. Formaldehyde-fixed and microwave-treated paraffin sections were used for VDR immunohistochemistry employing a biotinylated monoclonal rat antibody and streptavidin peroxidase technique. The results showed that nuclei and cytoplasm of enterocytes stained positively for VDRs. Strongest immunoreactions were observed in intermediate and basal glandular cells. No significant differences were observed between the different groups. Vitamin D receptors immunoreactivities were prominent in duodenal mucosa, lower in jejunum and in colon, decreased further in ileum and were lowest in caecum. Decreases in number of positively marked cells and staining intensities resulted in reduced immunoreactions. The results of this study indicate that VDR are highly expressed at the site of maximal intestinal calcium absorption. No significant influence of age and breed was observed. The animals used were not in a negative Ca balance. The cows were all in the stage of late or mid lactation. During these periods, the Ca requirements are low and the diets are high in Ca concentration; and the animals are adapted to these circumstances. Passive absorption in adult animals seems to dominate when Ca intake is adequate or high. The active absorption may play a considerably more significant role during the peripartal period, when Ca homeostatic mechanisms are challenged because of tremendous Ca demand at the initiation of lactation.