In situations of increased energy demand/food intake, animals can often acclimate within several days. The intestine generally responds to elevated digestive demand by increasing in size. However, there is likely a limit to how quickly the intestine can grow to meet the new demand. We investigated the immediate and longer term changes to intestinal properties of the mouse when suddenly exposed to 4°C. We hypothesized that paracellular permeability to nutrients would increase as part of an immediate response to elevated absorptive demand. We measured absorption of L-arabinose, intestinal size, and gene expression of several tight junction proteins (claudin-2, claudin-4, claudin-15, and ZO-1) at 3 timepoints: pre-exposure, 1 d, and 2 wks of cold exposure. Cold exposure increased food intake 62% after 2 wks but intake was not significantly increased after 1 d. Intestinal wet mass was elevated after 1 day and throughout the experiment. Absorption of arabinose rose 20% after 1 day in the cold and was 33% higher after 2 wks. Expression of claudin-2 increased after 1 day of cold exposure, but there were no changes in expression of any claudin genes when normalized to ZO-1 expression. Our results indicate that intestinal mass can respond rapidly to increased energy demand and that increased paracellular permeability is also part of that response. Increased paracellular permeability may be a consequence of enterocyte hyperplasia resulting in more tight junctions across which molecules can absorb.