Preterm infants receive gastric milk feeds as continuous infusions or intermittent boluses. It is not known whether these feeding methods have different effects on the development of digestive metabolism. We have measured plasma levels of insulin, pancreatic polypeptide (PP), gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP), gastrin, motilin, enteroglucagon (EG) and neurotensin (NT) in 19 preterm infants (28-34 weeks gestation) tolerating full enteral feeding from birth. 7 infants received human milk by continuous infusion, 12 infants were bolus fed. Hormones were measured in cord blood and at 6 and 13 days of age; samples were drawn preprandially in bolus fed infants. Both groups showed similar significant increases in plasma motilin, PP, NT and EG levels. At 13 days infusion fed infants had higher insulin. GIP and gastrin levels. No difference in rate of weight gain was seen in the two groups of infants. We conclude that both methods of feeding induce progressive changes in circulating enteroinsular hormone levels. However, the endocrine milieu is different in the two groups, particularly since bolus-fed infants experience marked cyclical surges in hormones after boluses of milk by 13 days of age. These differences in hormone release may affect metabolic homeostasis.