Deoxynivalenol (DON) has been recently documented to deteriorate intestinal morphology in chickens at dietary doses that are regarded as safe for this species. The present trial was conducted to explore the significance of these morphological changes in relation to intestinal absorptive functionality and DON metabolism. Ross broilers at 7 d of age were fed either a basal diet (0.265 ± 0.048 mg of DON/kg; 0.013 ± 0.001 mg of zearalenone/kg), a low DON diet (1.68 mg of DON/kg; 0.145 ± 0.007 mg of zearalenone/kg), or a high DON diet (12.209 ± 1.149 mg of DON/kg; 1.094 ± 0.244 mg of zearalenone/kg). The DON diets (to variable degrees) progressively decreased the relative density (weight:length) of the small intestine with increasing exposure length, which could be correlated with a decrease in villus height in the small intestine. Short circuit current of the jejunal epithelium, reflecting transport function of the epithelium per unit area, was reduced (P = 0.001) in the birds fed the high DON diet. The increasing dietary level of DON linearly (P = 0.035) increased the length of the jejunum in wk 4 of exposure, resulting in conservation of macronutrient retention. Upon challenging the birds with a fixed amount of DON after wk 5 of exposure, higher (P ≤ 0.033) amounts of DON and the detoxification metabolite (de-epoxy-DON) were found at 5 h postchallenge in the guts of birds raised on the DON diets. The increasing level of previous exposure to DON linearly (P = 0.040) decreased the plasma level of DON in the birds at 1 h postchallenge. The amounts of zearalenone and its analogs in the gut and plasma also followed a trend similar to that for DON. These data suggest that intestines in chickens may adapt to a chronic DON challenge by morphological and functional modifications. The birds having previous exposure to Fusarium mycotoxins showed moderate detoxification coupled with reduced transfer of the mycotoxins to systemic circulation. Some metabolites of zearalenone found in this study were previously unknown for chickens.