Dysregulated epithelial cell kinetics associated with mucosal barrier dysfunction may be involved in certain intestinal disorders. We previously showed that chronic psychological stress, in the form of repetitive sessions of water avoidance stress (WAS), has a major detrimental impact on ileal barrier function. We hypothesized that these changes were related to a disturbance in enterocyte kinetics. Rats were submitted to WAS (1 h/day) for 5 or 10 days. As previously shown, permeability to macromolecules was enhanced in rats stressed for 5 and 10 days compared with controls. WAS induced a decrease in crypt depth at day 5 associated with an increased number of apoptotic cells. Cell proliferation was significantly increased at days 5 and 10. Villus height and the specific activity of sucrase were significantly reduced at day 10. We concluded that WAS induces a disturbance of epithelial cell kinetics, with the pattern depending on the duration of the stress period. These findings help to explain the mechanism underlying altered epithelial barrier function resulting from exposure to chronic psychological stress.