It is known that auriculotherapy occasionally affects dramatic body weight reduction for obese patients, although the physiological and anorexigenic functions are not clear. Effects of auricular stimulation on feeding-related lateral (LHA) and ventromedial (VMH) hypothalamic neuronal activity in normal and experimental (hypothalamic and dietary) obese rats were investigated. The LHA and/or VMH neuronal activity were recorded from feeding-related regions in Wistar SPF/VAF male and experimental (hypothalamic and dietary) obese rats, anesthetized with urethane-chloralose, under stereotaxic coordination. Recording was through 3 M KCI glass microelectrodes, while stimulating the ipsilateral vagal innervated region of the auricle. This is equivalent to the cavum conchae in the human, and was identified by resistance less than 10-50 k omega. The stimulating electrode was a stainless steel ear acupuncture (0.12 x 2.0 mm). The latency of potentials evoked in the LHA by unilateral stimulation of a specific site in the ear was 28.1 +/- 3.3 ms (8-92, n = 41). LHA neuronal activity was depressed 45.6% (n = 12, p < 0.01), and VMH activity was excited (60.5%, n = 18, p < 0.01). The auricular acupuncture stimulation clearly modulates feeding-related hypothalamic neuronal activity of experimental (both hypothalamic and dietary) obese rats. These auricle acupuncture stimulation effects were correlated to the degree of obesity. In conclusion, the results suggest that auricular acupuncture stimulation may not reduce appetite, but is more likely concerned with satiation formation and preservation. Thus, auricular acupuncture should be more effective on obese rats than on normal rats.