Hypothalamic POMC neurons regulate energy balance via interactions with brain melanocortin receptors (MC-Rs). POMC neurons express the MC3-R which can function as an inhibitory autoreceptor in vitro. We now demonstrate that central activation of MC3-R with ICV infusion of the specific MC3-R agonist, [D-Trp(8)]-gamma-MSH, transiently suppresses hypothalamic Pomc expression and stimulates food intake in rats. Conversely, we also show that ICV infusion of a low dose of a selective MC3-R antagonist causes a transient decrease in feeding and weight gain. These data support a functional inhibitory role for the MC3-R on POMC neurons that leads to changes in food intake.