The effects of chronic central administration of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) on food intake, body weight, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical hormones were investigated in rats. The infusion of ovine CRF at doses of 0.3 and 1.0 microgram/h continuously induced decrease in food intake and a suppression of body-weight gain for 7 days. The inhibition of body weight gain induced by CRF could not be accounted for solely by a decreased food intake since the suppression of body-weight gain in CRF-infused rats was significantly greater than that observed in rats which received the same amount of food as the CRF-infused rats. The content of proopiomelanocortin (POMC) -derived peptides in the anterior lobe of the pituitary as well as the plasma levels of ACTH and corticosterone (B) were significantly elevated in CRF-treated rats, and the CRF content in the hypothalamus was significantly decreased. These results suggest that chronic intracerebroventricular (icv) administration of CRF stimulates the synthesis and secretion of POMC-related peptides in the pituitary and suppresses food intake accompanied by inhibition of body weight gain. The results are similar to clinical and laboratory findings observed in patients with stress-induced anorexia.