The projections of enteric neurons showing immunoreactivity for vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and galanin were investigated in the myenteric plexus of the intestine of the Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua. Quantification of immunoreactive material on the proximal and distal side of a myotomy was performed by means of confocal laser scanning microscopy. NOS immunoreactivity was reduced anal to the myotomy, whereas there was an accumulation of immunoreactivity for VIP and for galanin oral to the cut. These results suggest the presence of VIP, NOS and galanin in neurons with oral-to-anal projections along the intestine of the cod. Since descending neurons in the myenteric plexus of many other vertebrates also contain these substances, we conclude that the oral-to-anal projections of neurons containing VIP, NOS and galanin are highly conserved features and important for the descending phase of intestinal peristalsis on an evolutionary basis.