The short-term effects of rat pancreatic duct obstruction were evaluated and compared with those recently reported to follow obstruction of the rabbit pancreatic duct. In both species pancreatic edema and hyperamylasemia are noted, and the lysosomal hydrolase cathepsin B is redistributed from the lysosome-enriched to the zymogen granule-enriched subcellular fraction. Theoretically, this redistribution phenomenon might lead to digestive enzyme activation because cathepsin B is known to be capable of activating trypsinogen. The hyperamylasemia and pancreatic edema (but not the cathepsin B redistribution) that follow rat pancreatic duct obstruction were increased by infusion of a submaximally stimulating dose of the cholecystokinin analogue cerulein. Administration of the cholecystokinin-receptor antagonist L-364,718 reduced the hyperamylasemia but did not alter the pancreatic edema or cathepsin B redistribution. These observations indicate that cholecystokinin may modulate some but not all of the effects of duct obstruction. Secretin administration increased the degree of pancreatic edema and had no demonstrable protective effect. The rat duct-obstruction model described in this report may prove particularly useful in future studies designed to clarify the early events underlying the development of acute pancreatitis.