Zn deficiency reduces food intake and growth rate in rodents. To determine the relationship between Zn deficiency and the regulation of food intake, we evaluated leptin gene expression in epididymal white adipose tissue (eWAT), and hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone (hCRH) and hypothalamic neuropeptide Y (hNPY) of rats Zn-deficient only to show reduced food intake and growth rate but not food intake cycling. Growing male Sprague-Dawley rats (240 g) were randomly assigned to one of four dietary groups: Zn-adequate (ZA; 30 mg/kg diet), Zn-deficient (ZD; 3 mg/kg diet), pair-fed with ZD (PF; 30 mg/kg diet) and Zn-sufficient (ZS; 50 mg/kg diet) (n 8), and were fed for 3 weeks. Food intake and body weight were measured, as were blood mononuclear cells and pancreas Zn levels. eWAT leptin, hCRH and hNPY mRNA levels were determined. Food intake was decreased by about 10 % in ZD and PF rats compared to ZA and ZS rats. Growth and eWAT leptin mRNA levels were unaffected in PF rats but were significantly (P < 0.05) decreased in ZD rats. However, hNPY showed a tendency to increase, and hCRH significantly (P < 0.05) decreased, in both ZD and PF rats. These results suggest that while leptin gene expression may be directly affected by Zn, hNPY and hCRH are likely responding to reduced food intake caused by Zn deficiency.