To determine the effects of small increases in somatostatin 28 plasma concentrations on human interdigestive gastrointestinal motility and pancreatic secretion, six fasting volunteers were intubated with gastroduodenal multilumen tubes and motility and pancreatic enzyme secretion were measured. Subjects received intravenous NaCl and somatostatin 28 at 11 and 44 pmol.kg-1.h-1 for 120 minutes or at least one interdigestive cycle. The two doses increased plasma somatostatin 28 levels within the physiological or into the supraphysiological range, respectively. Somatostatin 28 at 11 and 44 pmol.kg-1.h-1 decreased the length of the interdigestive motility cycle by 50% and 67% compared with controls, respectively (both P less than 0.002). Propagation velocity of the migrating motor complex (P less than 0.01) and plasma motilin were decreased (P less than 0.01). The smaller and larger dose decreased pancreatic enzyme outputs by 50% and 65%, respectively (P less than 0.005), but with the smaller dose, phase III-associated enzyme outputs were greater than phase I outputs. These findings suggest that small changes in somatostatin 28 plasma concentrations modulate human interdigestive motility and pancreatic enzyme output while coupling of motor and secretory events is preserved.