Corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) acts on the central nervous system to alter energy balance and influence both food intake and sympathetically-mediated thermogenesis. CRH is also reported to inhibit food intake in several models of hyperphagia including neuropeptide Y (NPY)-induced eating. The recently identified CRH-related peptide, urocortin (UCN), also binds with high affinity to CRH receptor subtypes and decreases food intake in food-deprived and non-deprived rats. The present experiment characterized further the feeding and metabolic effects of UCN by examining its impact after direct injections into the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus. In feeding tests (n=8), UCN (50-200 pmol) was injected into the PVN at the onset of the dark cycle and food intake was measured 1, 2 and 4 h postinjection. In separate rats (n=8), the metabolic effects of UCN were monitored using an open circuit calorimeter which measured oxygen consumption (V(O2)) and carbon dioxide production (V(CO2)). Respiratory quotient (RQ) was calculated as V(CO2)/V(O2). UCN suppressed feeding at all times studied and reliably decreased RQ within 30 min of infusion. Additional work examined the effect of UCN (50-100 pmol) pretreatment on the feeding and metabolic effects of NPY. NPY, injected at the start of the dark period, reliably increased 2 h food intake. This effect was blocked by PVN UCN administration. Similarly, UCN blocked the increase in RQ elicited by NPY alone. These results suggest that UCN-sensitive mechanisms within the PVN may modulate food intake and energy substrate utilization, possibly through an interaction with hypothalamic NPY.