The study compared inhibitory actions of transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF alpha) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) on gastric acid secretion and effects of these peptides on release of gut peptides considered important for acid inhibitory and gastrointestinal protective mechanisms. TGF alpha and EGF did not affect basal acid secretion, but inhibited pentagastrin-stimulated acid secretion in a dose-dependent manner from 0.10 to 1.7 nmol kg-1 h-1 i.v. by maximally 72% for TGF alpha (P < 0.001) and 76% for EGF (P < 0.001). At the highest doses, TGF alpha and EGF caused 194% and 698% increase of somatostatin-like immunoreactivity (SOM-LI) in plasma, respectively (each P < 0.05). Neurotensin-like immunoreactivity (NT-LI) increased 438% by EGF (P < 0.05), but the increase of 700% with TGF alpha did not reach statistical significance. The levels of vasoactive intestinal peptide-like immunoreactivity (VIP-LI) did not change. In gastric juice, SOM-LI increased 80% by TGF alpha i.v. (P < 0.05), but NT- and VIP-LI did not change. EGF i.v. had no effects on levels of SOM-, NT- or VIP-LI in luminal juice. Thus, TGF alpha and EGF inhibit acid secretion, but also promote the release of SOM and NT into the circulation and may be involved in the acid inhibitory effects of these growth factors.