Recent studies provide significant evidence that cholecystokinin (CCK) is involved in the induction and development of acute pancreatitis in experimental animals. However, the results obtained with specific CCK-A (peripheral) receptor antagonists are still controversial. The present studies were undertaken to evaluate the involvement of endogenous CCK and the CCK-A receptors in the development of severe acute pancreatitis induced in Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) rats that have a selective defect in the CCK-A receptor. Three models of severe acute pancreatitis were induced by retrograde intraductal infusion of 4% sodium taurocholate, by the closed duodenal loop, or by a single intraperitoneal injection of 500 mg/100 g body weight of L-arginine in OLETF rats and control Long-Evans Tokushima Otsuka (LETO) rats. Plasma CCK levels rose up to 4- to 14-fold over the preloading values after the onset of acute pancreatitis in all three models in both groups of rats. However, histologic alterations as well as the magnitudes of increase in serum amylase and lipase activity and the pancreatic wet weight were significantly less in the OLETF rats than those in the LETO rats. In addition, 72 h after the onset of arginine pancreatitis, massive destruction of pancreatic parenchyma with a significant reduction in serum amylase and lipase activities and pancreatic wet weight was observed in the LETO rats, whereas these changes were not seen in OLETF rats. These results suggest that endogenous CCK and CCK-A receptors play a role in the development of severe acute pancreatitis in rats.