The hypothesis that dietary proteins or their hydrolysates may regulate intestinal mucin discharge was investigated in the isolated vascularly perfused rat jejunum using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for rat intestinal mucins. On luminal administration, casein hydrolysate [0.05-5% (wt/vol)] stimulated mucin secretion in rat jejunum (maximal response at 417% of controls). Lactalbumin hydrolysate (5%) also evoked mucin discharge. In contrast, casein, and a mixture of amino acids was without effect. Chicken egg albumin and its hydrolysate or meat hydrolysate also did not modify mucin release. Interestingly, casein hydrolysate-induced mucin secretion was abolished by intra-arterial TTX or naloxone (an opioid antagonist). beta-Casomorphin-7, an opioid peptide released from beta-casein on milk ingestion, induced a strong mucin secretion (response at 563% of controls) that was inhibited by naloxone. Intra-arterial beta-casomorphin-7 also markedly increased mucin secretion (410% of controls). In conclusion, two enzymatic milk protein hydrolysates (casein and lactalbumin hydrolysates) and beta-casomorphin-7, specifically, induced mucin release in rat jejunum. The casein hydrolysate-induced mucin secretion is triggered by a neural pathway and mediated by opioid receptor activation.