Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is an important regulator of energy balance in mammals through its orexigenic, antithermogenic, and insulin secretagogue actions. We investigated the regulation of endogenous NPY release from rat hypothalamic slices by NPY receptor ligands and calcium channel antagonists. High-potassium stimulation (60 mM) of the slices produced a calcium-dependent threefold increase in NPY release above basal release. The Y2 receptor agonists NPY(13-36) and N-acetyl[Leu28,Leu31]NPY(24-36), the Y4 agonist rat pancreatic polypeptide (rPP), and the Y4/Y5 agonist human pancreatic polypeptide (hPP) significantly reduced both basal and stimulated NPY release. NPY(13-36)-induced reduction of NPY release could be partially prevented in the presence of the weak Y2 antagonist T4-[NPY(33-36)]4, whereas the hPP- and rPP-induced inhibition of release was not affected by the Y5 antagonist CGP71683A or the Y1 antagonist BIBP3226. The selective Y1, Y2, and Y5 antagonists had no effect on either basal or potassium-stimulated release when administered alone. The calcium channel inhibitors omega-conotoxin GVIA (N-type), omega-agatoxin TK (P/Q-type), and omega-conotoxin MVIIC (Q-type) all significantly inhibited potassium-stimulated NPY release, without any effect on basal release, whereas nifedipine had no effect on either basal or stimulated release. Addition of both omega-conotoxin GVIA and omega-agatoxin TK together completely inhibited the potassium-stimulated release. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that NPY release from hypothalamic slices is calcium-dependent, involving N-, P-, and Q-type calcium channels. NPY release is also inhibited by Y2 agonists and rPP/hPP, suggesting that Y2 and Y4 receptors may act as autoreceptors on NPY-containing nerve terminals.