Somatostatin may inhibit gastric exocrine functions independent of blockade of gastrin secretion. In order to further investigate this suppressive effect, somatostatin derivatives were injected to cats bearing a cannulated gastric fistula under pentagastrin stimulation. Results showed that somatostatin-14 was more potent than somatostatin-28 in this particular model. Analogues with substituted residues exhibited a variable spectrum of actions on hormone release and gastric function. A cyclic pentapeptide was deprived of gastric or GH inhibitory properties whereas the related peptide with a benzyl-protecting group on Thr was only devoid of gastric effect. The octapeptide SMS 201-995 was described as a potent inhibitor of gastric secretion in comparison with natural somatostatin in rats and also in humans, but was unable to induce maximal suppression of acid output in the cat model. Differences in gastric effect of different derivatives could be explained on the basis of binding to a selective subset of receptors, since at least two binding sites have been identified in the stomach mucosa. Serial studies with short cyclic somatostatin should help to establish a clear relationship between peptide structure and inhibition of gastric secretion.