We prepared pasta of differing physical dimensions but identical chemical composition that contained two monosaccharide probes (lactulose and mannitol) that are absorbed passively and promptly excreted in urine. We showed that the rates of their liberation from the pasta under simulated gastric and small intestinal conditions largely depended upon the rate of digestion of the starchy matrix. We showed, in 20 female subjects, that excretion of mannitol was slower from the pasta with the larger particle size. Hence, after consumption of either the powdered pasta or the simple solution of probe sugars, the mass of mannitol excreted between 1 and 2½ hours was greater than that excreted between 2½ and 4 hours. However these masses did not differ significantly after consumption of the pasta pellets. These differences were not reflected in the concurrent patterns of variation in either serum glucose or insulin taken over 120 minutes, their levels being similar for pasta pellets and powder with their peak values occurring synchronously during the first hour. Hence feeding test foods impregnated with lactulose and mannitol probes provided a reproducible and practical means of assessing the timing of digestion of the carbohydrate matrix and showed that this was more protracted than suggested by post prandial glucose levels. Further, the transit times calculated on a basis of the ratios of the two marker sugars could identify that the prolongation of digestion of larger particles was not accompanied by retention of digesta in particular segments of the gut.