Somatostatin is a peptide synthesized in many tissues that can act as a neurotransmitter, a systemic hormone, or a local hormone, and inhibits the secretion of hormones or other cell products. A long-acting synthetic analogue of somatostatin (SMS 201-995) has been developed which when administered subcutaneously has a biologic half-life of 90 to 120 minutes and can be administered 2 or 3 times per day. SMS 201-995 can lower plasma concentrations of growth hormone and somatomedin-C in patients with pituitary acromegaly, but no controlled trials to assess symptomatic response or change in tumor size have been done. In patients with pituitary thyrotropin-producing pituitary tumors, SMS 201-995 has been remarkably effective in producing biochemical and clinical responses and is the drug of first choice in this syndrome when tumor resection is not possible. In patients with the carcinoid syndrome, SMS 201-995 effectively reduces diarrhea, is the best available drug for treatment of carcinoid flush (effective in approximately 90% of cases), and is useful in treating carcinoid crisis. Eighty-five percent of patients with pancreatic islet cell tumors that produce vasoactive intestinal peptide will respond to SMS 201-995 with a reduction in diarrhea that often has been resistant to all other therapy. SMS 201-995 may also be useful in treating the symptoms in some patients with glucagonomas, growth hormone releasing hormone-producing tumors and insulinomas. Whether SMS 201-995 has a significant effect on gut neuroendocrine tumor growth remains uncertain. Certain nonmalignant diseases of the gut respond to somatostatin, including secretory diarrhea and fistulas of unknown cause. In general, SMS 201-995 has proved safe with few significant side effects, but whether the long-term use of the drug will result in an iatrogenic form of the somatostatinoma syndrome is uncertain.