Several studies carried out during the past two decades have investigated the effect of dietary and surgical manipulation on pancreatic growth and carcinogenesis. Diets high in trypsin inhibitor stimulate pancreatic growth and increase the formation of preneoplastic lesions and carcinomas in the rat pancreas. Cholecystokinin (CCK) is the key intermediary in this response, since both natural and synthetic trypsin inhibitors increase circulating levels of the hormone and CCK antagonists largely prevent these changes. Fatty acids enhance pancreatic carcinogenesis in both rats and hamsters, whereas protein appears to have a protective role in the rat, but to increase tumour yields in the hamster. Several surgical operations affect the pancreas. Pancreatobiliary diversion and partial gastrectomy stimulate pancreatic growth and enhance carcinogenesis, probably by means of increased CCK release. Complete duodenogastric reflux has similar effects on the pancreas but the gut peptide involved is gastrin. Although massive small bowel resection increases pancreatic growth, the marked reduction in caloric absorption probably explains its failure to enhance carcinogenesis. CCK and enteroglucagon might work in concert to modulate the tropic response of the pancreas to small bowel resection. In the pancreas, as in the large intestine, hyperplasia appears to precede and predispose to neoplasia.