Six randomized, placebo controlled studies were performed to investigate the effect of electroacupuncture on gastric acid output in 38 healthy males. Electroacupuncture decreased basal acid output when compared to placebo acupuncture [from 3.50 +/- 0.59 mmol/hr to 2.54 +/- 0.56 mmol/hr (P < 0.05)] as well as sham feeding-stimulated acid output [from 18.52 +/- 2.25 mmol/hr to 5.38 +/- 2.11 mmol/hr (P < 0.005)], but had no effect on the pentagastrin stimulated acid output. The inhibitory effect of acupuncture on sham feeding-stimulated acid output was not affected by local anesthesia of the acupoint, but was prevented by a prior intravenous naloxone injection. Acupuncture did not alter plasma gastrin levels (20.7 +/- 7.6 micrograms/liter, vs control 21.2 +/- 7.2 micrograms/liter) but naloxone increased it (26.1 +/- 14.5 micrograms/liter) (P < 0.05). We conclude that the antisecretory effects of electroacupuncture do not result from decreased gastrin release or decreased parietal cell sensitivity to gastrin, but are mediated through naloxone-sensitive opioid neural pathways and vagal efferent pathways.