The peptide apelin has been located in a wide range of tissues, including the gastrointestinal tract, stomach and adipose tissue. Apelin and its receptor has also been detected in the arcuate and paraventricular nuclei of the hypothalamus, which are involved in the control of feeding behaviour and energy expenditure. This distribution suggests apelin may play a role in energy homeostasis, but previous attempts to discern the effects of apelin by acute injection into the brain have yielded conflicting results. We examined the effect of a chronic 10-day intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) infusion of apelin-13 into the third ventricle on food intake, body temperature and locomotor activity in C57BL/6 mice. Apelin-13 (1 microg/day) increased food intake significantly on days 3-7 of infusion; thereafter, food intake of treated and control individuals converged. This convergence was potentially because of progressive conversion of apelin-13 to [Pyr(1)]apelin-13 which has a four-fold lower receptor binding affinity at the orphan G protein-coupled receptor, APJ. Locomotor activity was also higher in the apelin-treated mice, especially during the nocturnal peak, when most feeding occurs, and the first hours of the light phase. Body temperature was also elevated during this increased period of activity, but was otherwise unaffected. Apelin-13-infused animals gained more weight than the saline-infused controls, suggesting the elevated locomotor activity did not offset the increased food intake. Elevated locomotion and the consequent increases in body temperature were probably secondary effects to the increased food intake. These results suggest that apelin-13 may play a central role in the control of feeding behaviour and is one of only two peripheral ligands known to stimulate rather than inhibit intake. As apelin production is elevated during obesity, this may provide an important feed-forward mechanism exacerbating the problem. Antagonists of the apelin receptor may therefore be useful pharmaceuticals in the treatment of obesity.