This article discusses the role of the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) in feeding and drinking and draws on data obtained from lesion and stimulation studies and neurochemical and electrophysiological manipulations of the area. The LHA is involved in catecholaminergic and serotonergic feeding systems and plays a role in circadian feeding, sex differences in feeding and spontaneous activity. This article discusses the LHA regarding dietary self-selection, responses to high-protein diets, amino acid imbalances, liquid and cafeteria diets, placentophagia, "stress eating," finickiness, diet texture, consistency and taste, aversion learning, olfaction and the effects of post-operative period manipulations by hormonal and other means. Glucose-sensitive neurons have been identified in the LHA and their manipulation by insulin and 2-deoxy-D-glucose is discussed. The effects on feeding of numerous transmitters, hormones and appetite depressants are described, as is the role of the LHA in salivation, lacrimation, gastric motility and secretion, and sensorimotor deficits. The LHA is also illuminated as regards temperature and feeding, circumventricular organs and thirst and electrolyte dynamics. A discussion of its role in the ischymetric hypothesis as an integrative Gestalt concept concludes the review.