Avian pancreatic polypeptide (APP)-like, molluscan cardioexcitatory peptide (FMRF)-like and neuropeptide Y (NPY)-like immunoreactivities were studied in a secondary visual pathway in rat brain. The cell bodies of this pathway are located in the lateral geniculate nucleus and its terminal plexus is found in the suprachiasmatic hypothalamic nucleus (SCN). The neurons and terminal plexus demonstrated by antiserum to each peptide are identical, and immunoreactivity is blocked by preabsorption of each antiserum with a low concentration of the antigen against which it was raised. Immunoreactivity is also blocked by preabsorption of each antiserum with either NPY or APP. In contrast, APP- and NPY-like immunoreactivities are blocked only partially when these antisera are preabsorbed with concentrations of FMRF as high as 100 microM. Since NPY is the only one of these peptides that has been isolated from mammalian brain, we conclude that NPY is the endogenous CNS peptide produced by neurons of the lateral geniculate-SCN projection.