The profile of hormone secretion from the gastrointestinal tract on food ingestion depends to a great extent on the composition of the meal. High levels of protein result in a quantitatively and qualitatively different response compared with a meal rich in fats. The outstanding question is whether this differential response is driven by the ability of gastroenteric endocrine cells to directly sense the contents of the lumen via apical microvilli. Alternative effectors would include activation of the intrinsic and extrinsic innervation or other epithelial cell populations. The data available indicate that the role of the gastrointestinal innervation is relatively limited and is probably a major factor only in the postprandial responses of hormones released from endocrine cells in the distal small intestine. However, whether nutrients directly stimulate gastroenteric endocrine cells or another epithelial cell type has yet to be established.