Gut peptides exert diverse effects regulating satiety, gastrointestinal motility and acid secretion, epithelial integrity, and both nutrient absorption and disposal. These actions are initiated by activation of specific G protein-coupled receptors and may be mediated by direct or indirect effects on target cells. More recent evidence demonstrates that gut peptides, exemplified by glucagon-like peptides-1 and 2 (GLP-1 and GLP-2), directly regulate signaling pathways coupled to cell proliferation and apoptosis. GLP-1 receptor activation enhances beta-cell proliferation and promotes islet neogenesis via activation of pdx-1 expression. The proliferative effects of GLP-1 appear to involve multiple intracellular pathways, including stimulation of Akt, activation of protein kinase Czeta, and transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor through the c-src kinase. GLP-1 receptor activation also promotes cell survival in beta-cells and neurons via increased levels of cAMP leading to cAMP response element binding protein activation, enhanced insulin receptor substrate-2 activity and, ultimately, activation of Akt. These actions of GLP-1 are reflected by expansion of beta-cell mass and enhanced resistance to beta-cell injury in experimental models of diabetes in vivo. GLP-2 also promotes intestinal cell proliferation and confers resistance to cellular injury in a variety of cell types. Administration of GLP-2 to animals with experimental intestinal injury promotes regeneration of the gastrointestinal epithelial mucosa and confers resistance to apoptosis in an indirect manner via yet-to-be identified GLP-2 receptor-dependent regulators of mucosal growth and cell survival. These proliferative and antiapoptotic actions of GLP-1 and GLP-2 may contribute to protective and regenerative actions of these peptides in human subjects with diabetes and intestinal disorders, respectively.