Neuropeptide Y (NPY), a peptide contained within numerous presynaptic terminals in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), was injected directly into the PVN of satiated, brain-cannulated rats, and food and water intake were measured 0.5, 1, 2 and 4 hrs postinjection. Neuropeptide Y (24 and 78 pmoles/0.3 microliter isotonic saline) caused a dose-dependent increase in food intake, as well as a small, dose-dependent increase in water intake. This effect on feeding occurred even when food was not presented until 4 hrs postinjection. To determine the behavioral specificity of this effect, the impact of PVN injection of NPY (78 pmoles) on various behaviors was observed. With food available, only feeding and drinking behavior were affected. No change in other behaviors, including grooming, rearing, sleeping, resting or different levels of activity, was observed. With food absent, NPY still elicited drinking, suggesting that this is a primary effect, rather than secondary to the feeding. In addition to drinking, NPY reliably increased activity while decreasing sleep and grooming. These results suggest an important role for hypothalamic NPY, or a structurally-related peptide, in the regulation of feeding and drinking behavior.