Afferent neuron-mediated gastric mucosal protection has been suggested to result from the local release of vasodilator peptides such as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) from afferent nerve endings within the stomach. The present study, therefore, examined whether rat alpha-CGRP, administered via different routes, is able to protect against mucosal injury induced by gastric perfusion with 25% ethanol or acidified aspirin (25 mM, pH 1.5) in urethane-anesthetized rats. Close arterial infusion of CGRP (15 pmol/min) to the stomach, via a catheter placed in the abdominal aorta proximal to the celiac artery, significantly reduced gross mucosal damage caused by ethanol and aspirin whereas mean arterial blood pressure (BP) was not altered. Intravenous infusion of CGRP (50 pmol/min) did not affect aspirin-induced mucosal injury but significantly enhanced ethanol-induced lesion formation. Intravenous CGRP (50 pmol/min) also lowered BP and increased the gastric clearance of [14C]aminopyrine, an indirect measure of gastric mucosal blood flow while basal gastric output of acid and bicarbonate was not altered. Intragastric administration of CGRP (260 nM) significantly inhibited aspirin-induced mucosal damage but did not influence damage in response to ethanol. BP, gastric clearance of [14C]aminopyrine, and gastric output of acid and bicarbonate remained unaltered by intragastric CGRP. These data indicate that only close arterial administration of CGRP to the rat stomach, at doses devoid of a systemic hypotensive effect, is able to protect against both ethanol- and aspirin-induced mucosal damage. As this route of administration closely resembles local release of the peptide in the stomach, CGRP may be considered as a candidate mediator of afferent nerve-induced gastric mucosal protection.