The objectives of this study were to confirm the non-absorbability and the reproducibility of faecal excretion kinetics of orally administered rare earth elements, and to investigate the excretion profiles of rare earth elements and stable isotopic tracers of Fe and Zn to establish the extent to which rare earth element markers duplicate the behaviour of isotopic tracers. Two investigations were performed: (1) six healthy subjects consumed a solution containing five rare earth elements in amounts varying from 1 to 10 mg; (2) seven healthy subjects were given a standard solution labelled with Sm marker and Fe-57 tracer, and a meal labelled with Yb marker and Fe-58 and Zn-70 tracers. Individual faecal samples were collected and analysed to determine recoveries of rare earth elements and unabsorbed isotopic tracers. The mean values for recoveries were 94.1 (sd 4.5) % for the five rare earth elements, and 103 (sd 3.0) % and 99.8 (sd 2.8) % for Sm and Yb respectively. For Fe consumed with the solution, excretion kinetics of the rare earth element marker and unabsorbed tracers with cumulative collections of the first two and three faecal samples were identical, but endogenous excretion of Fe was significant (P<0.05) in stools collected after the third. For Fe and Zn consumed with the meal, the excretion kinetics for the first two individual faecal samples and composites of sequential outputs were identical. Rare earth elements can be used as markers in studies of measurement of absorption. The dose of tracer required for the measurement of absorption would be reduced proportionally to the reduction of the period of faecal sampling, so that studies with stable isotopes would be more economical, thus enabling epidemiological investigations.