The mammalian hypothalamus strongly influences ingestive behaviour through several different signalling molecules and receptor systems. Here we show that CART (cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript), a brain-located peptide, is a satiety factor and is closely associated with the actions of two important regulators of food intake, leptin and neuropeptide Y. Food-deprived animals show a pronounced decrease in expression of CART messenger RNA in the arcuate nucleus. In animal models of obesity with disrupted leptin signalling, CART mRNA is almost absent from the arcuate nucleus. Peripheral administration of leptin to obese mice stimulates CART mRNA expression. When injected intracerebroventricularly into rats, recombinant CART peptide inhibits both normal and starvation-induced feeding, and completely blocks the feeding response induced by neuropeptide Y. An antiserum against CART increases feeding in normal rats, indicating that CART may be an endogenous inhibitor of food intake in normal animals.