Peptide YY (PYY) release in anaesthetized rats was studied during the 2 h following the intraduodenal administration of a semi-liquid meal of 21 kJ. Surgical and pharmacological manipulations were performed in order to analyse the mechanisms of PYY release. Postprandial PYY release was suppressed or strongly decreased by caecocolonectomy, truncal vagotomy, tetrodotoxin, hexamethonium, sensory denervation by perivagal capsaicin, and by the NO-synthase inhibitor L-N-arginine methyl ester, while atropine, adrenergic blockers, antagonists of type-A or type-B cholecystokinin (CCK) receptors or bombesin receptors had no effect. Comparing the digestive transit of the semi-liquid meal with the amount of PYY contained in the small bowel wall showed that nutrients had not reached the area rich in cells containing PYY by 30 min, the time at which there was a large PYY release in plasma. By 120 min, the meal front had travelled 72% of the small intestine length, just beginning to reach the PYY-rich part of the ileum. We conclude that the main postprandial PYY release studied in this model comes from ileal and colonic L-cells indirectly stimulated through a neural mechanism originating in the proximal gut and involving sensory vagal fibres, nicotinic synapses and NO release, while CCK and bombesin do not seem to be physiologically involved.