Both cholecystokinin and bombesin have been shown to promote pancreatic carcinogenesis in the azaserine-rat model. The present study was undertaken to discriminate between the effects of cholecystokinin and bombesin and to establish the modulating properties of the specific cholecystokinin receptor antagonist CR-1409 on pancreatic carcinogenesis. After initiation with 30 mg/kg of azaserine, six groups of 15 Wistar rats were treated for 16 wk with cholecystokinin, bombesin, or gelatin (control), some in combination with CR-1409. Doses of cholecystokinin (2.5 micrograms/kg) and bombesin (10 micrograms/kg) were chosen that rendered approximately equal plasma cholecystokinin levels. Both cholecystokinin and bombesin were found to stimulate pancreatic growth, whereas CR-1409 only inhibited the growth-promoting effect of cholecystokinin significantly. Furthermore, both peptides stimulated the development of putative preneoplastic lesions, whereas CR-1409 only inhibited the effect of cholecystokinin significantly. It is concluded that (a) CR-1409 inhibits the promoting effect of cholecystokinin on pancreatic growth and azaserine-induced early pancreatic lesions and (b) the effects of bombesin cannot be fully ascribed to stimulation of the secretion of endogenous cholecystokinin.