Hypocretins/orexins are recently characterized peptides that are synthesized in neurones of the lateral hypohalamus and stimulate food intake in rats. To clarify whether leptin may interact with hypocretin/orexin to reduce ingestive behaviour, the presence of leptin receptor-immunoreactivity in hypocretin/orexin-containing neurones was examined. Many leptin receptor-and hypocretin/orexin-immunoreactive neurones were demonstrated in the lateral hypothalamic area and perifornical region. Both direct double-labelling and elution-restaining methods showed that leptin receptor-immunoreactivity was present in the vast majority of hypocretin/orexin-containing neurones. Immunoreactivity for STAT3, a transcription factor activated by leptin, was also demonstrated in hypocretin/orexin-containing neurones. Isolated hypocretin/orexin cell bodies in the dorsal part of the lateral hypothalamic area and the ventral perifornical region were shown to contain immunoreactivity for galanin, another peptide known to affect feeding. Galanin neurones were also seen to contain leptin receptor-and STAT3-immunoreactivity. Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH)-containing neurones constituted a cell population within the lateral hypothalamus distinct from the one containing hypocretin/orexin-immunoreactivity, as shown by elution-restaining methodology. The presence of leptin receptor-and STAT3-immunoreactivities in hypocretin/orexin-containing neurones of the lateral hypothalamus suggests that leptin may directly regulate these hypothalamic neurones, most likely via an inhibitory action on hypocretin/orexin expression and/or secretion resulting in reduced food intake.