Massive small bowel resection (SBR) is characterized by increased proliferation of residual gut mucosa and pancreas. Neurotensin (NT), a gut tridecapeptide, stimulates growth of normal gut mucosa and pancreas. This study examined whether NT affected growth of the small intestine and the pancreas after either distal or proximal SBR. Male Fischer 344 rats were divided into four groups. Group 1 underwent ileal transection with reanastomosis (SHAM) and group 2 underwent 70% distal SBR. Group 3 underwent SHAM operation (jejunal transection), and group 4 underwent 70% proximal SBR. After operation, each group was further subdivided to receive either saline (control) or NT (300 micrograms/kg) subcutaneously in gelatin every 8 hours for 7 days. At death, the pancreas and proximal jejunum (from groups 1 and 2) or distal ileum (from groups 3 and 4) were removed, weighed, and analyzed for DNA, RNA, and protein content. Both proximal and distal SBR significantly increased mucosal growth in the remnant intestine; a more pronounced effect was noted with proximal SBR. Administration of NT significantly augmented the adaptive changes in both groups of rats by mechanisms involving increases in both cell size (hypertrophy) and cell number (hyperplasia). Pancreatic growth was stimulated by distal (but not proximal) SBR; NT did not augment this response. The authors conclude that NT augments intestinal growth after SBR by mechanisms involving an increase in overall mucosal cellularity. Administration of NT may be therapeutically useful to enhance mucosal regeneration during the early period of adaptive hyperplasia after SBR.