Adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) is synthesized in the retinal ganglion cells which terminate on vasoactive intestinal polypeptide neurons in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the location of circadian clock. To examine whether PACAP exhibits daily variations in the rat SCN, we measured endogenous PACAP contents throughout the day under 12:12 h light-dark or constant dark conditions. PACAP level was low during the light periods, high during the dark periods, and was stable under constant dark conditions. In the periventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and cerebral cortex, PACAP content did not show any significant variation throughout the day. Our findings suggest that PACAP content in the SCN may be changed by lighting conditions. Thus, PACAP-containing neurons may play certain roles in the entrainment of circadian rhythms.