The primary aim of this experiment was to evaluate the intestinal barrier permeability in vivo in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) fed increasing levels of soyabean meal (SBM). The relationship between SBM-induced enteritis (SBMIE) and the permeability markers was also investigated. Our results showed that the mean score of morphological parameters was significantly higher as a result of 37·5 % SBM inclusion in the diet, while the scores of fish fed 25 % SBM or lower were not different from those of the fish meal-fed controls (P < 0·05). SBMIE was found in the distal intestine (DI) in 18 % of the fish (eleven of sixty): ten in the 37·5 % SBM-fed group and one in the 25 % SBM-fed group. Sugar markers in plasma showed large variation among individuals probably due to variation in feed intake. We found, however, a significant linear increase in the level of plasma d-lactate with increasing SBM inclusion level (P < 0·0001). Plasma concentration of endotoxin was not significantly different in groups with or without SBMIE. Some individual fish showed high values of endotoxin in blood, but the same individuals did not show any bacterial translocation. Plasma bacterial DNA was detected in 28 % of the fish with SBMIE, and 8 % of non-SBMIE fish (P = 0·07). Plasma concentration of d-lactate was significantly higher in fish with SBMIE (P < 0·0001). To conclude, SBMIE in the DI of rainbow trout was associated with an increase in bacterial translocation and plasma d-lactate concentration, suggesting that these permeability markers can be used to evaluate intestinal permeability in vivo.