We have examined the effect of orally administered capsaicin on gastric motility in the rat to investigate a possible relationship between motility change and cytoprotection induced by this agent. Capsaicin, given orally (1-30 mg/kg), dose-dependently inhibited hemorrhagic band-like lesions induced by ethanol (60% in 150 mM HCl). This protection was significantly mitigated by desensitization of afferent neurons following capsaicin pretreatment 2 weeks before the experiment, and it was also significantly attenuated by prior administration of indomethacin, but not by spantide. Intragastric administration of capsaicin (30 mg/kg) significantly inhibited gastric motility and increased the mucosal blood flow, but had no effect on the transmucosal potential difference of the stomach. These functional changes induced by capsaicin were also less marked in the afferent neuronal desensitized rat, and they were significantly attenuated by indomethacin but not by spantide. These results suggest that the mucosal protection by intragastric capsaicin may be associated with the inhibition of gastric motility and the increase of mucosal blood flow. These responses may be induced by activation of primary afferent neurons which are probably sensitized by endogenous prostaglandins.