The treatment of obesity by intestinal bypass provides a unique model for the investigation of gut hormone release from the functionally deranged bowel. We have examined the postprandial response of eight circulating gut or pancreatic peptide hormones in 16 preoperative obese patients, 20 patients with jejunoileal bypass, 38 patients with biliopancreatic bypass and 13 age and sex-matched controls. Basal and post-meal hormone concentrations were determined by specific radioimmunoassay methods. Reductions of the upper small intestinal hormones, motilin and gastric inhibitory polypeptide were found in both types of surgery. Conversely, the ileal hormones neurotensin and enteroglucagon were elevated following surgery. This pattern is consistent with the known distribution of these hormones. Variations of response due to surgical differences were noted for gastrin and the enteropancreatic axis, which was more markedly disturbed after biliopancreatic bypass. The alterations of hormone release closely reflect the anatomical changes induced by each particular surgical technique.