We tested the hypothesis that stimulation of intestinal mucosal afferent nerves produces an increase in superior mesenteric artery (SMA) but a decrease in mesenteric adipose tissue (MAT) blood flow. In anesthetized rats, blood flow in the SMA (pulsed Doppler flowmetry) and MAT (hydrogen gas clearance) was measured simultaneously before and after administration of 0.9% saline, 640 microM capsaicin, or 5% dextrose into the intestinal lumen. The changes in the SMA were 3.8 +/- 3.0, 15.9 +/- 4.0, and 18.8 +/- 7.6%; and those in the MAT, 4.7 +/- 4.0, -11.5 +/- 3.4, and -0.07 +/- 3.4% of baseline, respectively. The data indicate that exposure of the intestinal lumen to an afferent nerve stimulant or nutrient induced a dichotomous pattern of blood flow changes, an increase in the SMA and a reduction in MAT. The capsaicin-sensitive afferent nerves may be instrumental in mediating these energy responses.