Using an automated gustometer, licking behavior in rats was evaluated for a range of concentrations of appetitive and aversive stimuli in rats following electrolytic lesions in the rostral nucleus of the solitary tract (NST). Lesions of the NST flattened the concentration-response function for all gustatory stimuli. They attenuated the concentration-response function for MgCl2, QHCI, and NH(4)Cl by shifting it to the right by 0.5 log unit, attenuated the function for citric acid and Polycose by shifting it to the right by 1.5 log units, and fully eliminated the function for sucrose and NaCl. This failure to respond appropriately, however, was specific to gustatory stimuli because all rats reduced ingestive responding when presented with increasing concentrations of capsaicin, a trigeminal stimulus. Together, the data show that the NST is critical for responding appropriately to changes in intensity of a gustatory, but not a trigeminal, stimulus.