Secretin causes the bile duct cells to secrete HCO3-. To examine whether the transformation of duct cell ultrastructure that follows secretin stimulation depends on microtubules and is important for ductular HCO3- secretion, we examined the effect of colchicine on ductular HCO3- secretion and on the morphology of cells lining bile ductules of anaesthetized pigs. Colchicine blocked secretin-dependent cytoplasmic clearance of tubulovesicles and prevented expansion of the basolateral plasma membrane in duct cells and reduced the ductular HCO3- secretory response from 132 ± 25 μmol min-1 to 97 ± 14 μmol min-1. In contrast, lumicolchicine did not affect secretin-dependent tubulovesicle clearance or plasma membrane geometry or ductular HCO3- secretion. Accordingly, secretin-dependent cytoplasmic clearance of tubulovesicles in bile duct cells appears to depend on microtubules and to be important for ductular HCO3- secretion.