Ingested nutrients stimulate secretion of gastrointestinal hormones that are necessary for the coordinated processes of digestion and absorption of food. One of the most important hormonal regulators of the digestive process is cholecystokinin (CCK). This hormone is concentrated in the proximal small intestine and is secreted into the blood on the ingestion of proteins and fats. The physiological actions of CCK include stimulation of pancreatic secretion and gallbladder contraction, regulation of gastric emptying, and induction of satiety. Therefore, in a highly coordinated manner CCK regulates the ingestion, digestion, and absorption of nutrients. The manner by which foods affect enteric hormone secretion is largely unknown. However, it has recently become apparent that two CCK-releasing factors are present in the lumen of the proximal small intestine. One of these factors, known as monitor peptide, has been chemically characterized. Monitor peptide is produced by pancreatic acinar cells and is secreted by way of the pancreatic duct into the duodenum. On reaching the small intestine, monitor peptide interacts with CCK cells to induce hormone secretion. A CCK-releasing factor of intestinal origin has been partially characterized and is responsible for stimulation of CCK secretion after 1) ingestion of protein or fats, 2) instillation of protease inhibitors into the duodenum, or 3) diversion of bile-pancreatic juice from the upper small intestine. Together, these releasing factors provide positive and negative feedback mechanisms for regulation of CCK secretion. This review discusses the physiological observations that have led to the chemical characterization of the CCK-releasing factors and the potential implications of this work to other hormones of the gastrointestinal tract.