Directed screening of compounds selected from the Glaxo registry file for contractile activity on the isolated guinea pig gallbladder (GPGB) identified a series of 1,5-benzodiazepines with peripheral cholecystokinin (CCK) receptor agonist activity. Agonist efficacy within this series was modulated by variation of substituents on the N1-anilinoacetamide moiety. Remarkably, a single methyl group confers agonist activity, with an N-isopropyl substituent providing optimal efficacy. Hydrophilic substituents on the anilino nitrogen abolish agonist activity or produce antagonists of CCK. In contrast, hydrophilic electron-donating groups at the para-position of the anilino ring enhance or maintain in vitro and in vivo agonist activity. Despite decreased affinity for the human CCK-A receptor, relative to CCK-8, some of these compounds are equipotent to CCK as anorectic agents in rats following intraperitoneal administration.