Neurokinin A (NKA)-immunoreactivities and substance P (SP)-immunoreactivities were found in picomolar amounts in colonic tissues and almost an order of magnitude higher amounts in vagal, pelvic, splanchnic, and lumbar colonic nerves of the cat. Continuous electric stimulation of the pelvic nerve at 4 Hz or intermittent electric burst stimulation of the pelvic nerve at 40 Hz during 1 second with 10-second rest periods produced a marked release of NKA-like immunoreactivity (NKA-LI) and SP-LI from the colon to blood (P less than 0.001). Reflex activation of the pelvic nerve by mechanical stimulation of the anus or rectal distension produced a less pronounced release of NKA-LI and SP-LI from the colon to blood (P less than 0.01). There was a simultaneous colonic contraction and vasodilation during each nerve stimulation. Reverse-phase high performance liquid chromatography showed presence of NKA, NKA oxide, NKA (3-10)/NKA (4-10), and neuropeptide K (NPK) in colonic tissues and release of all these molecular forms except NPK on nerve stimulation. Substance P and SP oxide were present both in colonic tissue extracts and in released material. Close intraarterial infusions of NKA, neurokinin B, SP, NPK, eledoisin, and physalaemin at doses of 0.1-100 pmol/min induced dose-dependent contractions of the proximal and distal colon (P less than 0.001) and vasodilatation (P less than 0.001), NKA being the most potent. The effects of the tachykinins were reduced after tetrodotoxin (P less than 0.05) and atropine (P less than 0.05) but unchanged after treatment with hexamethonium. Our findings indicate that tachykinins are released from the pelvic nerve to induce a nonadrenergic noncholinergic contraction and vasodilatation of the colon in the cat.