Basal and postprandial concentrations of gastrointestinal hormones were measured in 12 dogs before and at one and three months after a 75% small bowel resection. Five animals were studied again at six months. Concentrations of enteric hormones and neuropeptides, measured in the proximal jejunum and distal ileum adjacent to the anastomotic site at the time of euthanasia, were compared with concentrations in control tissues taken from each animal at the time of resection. Increased basal and postprandial levels of gastrin (P < 0.05), cholecystokinin (CCK, P < 0.05), glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP, P < 0.01), peptide YY (PYY, P < 0.001), and enteroglucagon (P < 0.001), were seen at one month after small bowel resection. In contrast, no significant changes were seen in concentrations of secretin, motilin, neurotensin, somatostatin, PP, or glucagon. Concentrations of enteroglucagon, GIP, and PYY remained high throughout the six-month study period. In contrast, gastrin and CCK had normalized by three months. Thus, only enteroglucagon, PYY, and GIP showed sustained elevations following enterectomy; the gastrin and CCK changes were transient. Following enterectomy, concentrations of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) were reduced by about 50% in mucosal (P < 0.001) and muscle (P < 0.05) layers of proximal and distal gut. In contrast, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) was increased by about twofold in jejunal and ileal mucosa (P < 0.05), and CGRP elevations were even more marked in the muscle layers (P < 0.001). Somatostatin and neuropeptide Y (NPY) concentrations were similar to controls in all areas except for a small decrease in NPY in ileal mucosa (P < 0.05). These findings suggest that the increased motilin and PP concentrations previously reported after bowel resection in man are more likely to reflect underlying inflammatory bowel disease rather than enterectomy. The normalization of hypergastrinemia explains why the increased acid secretion after small bowel resection is transient. These results provide evidence for independent secretory control of enteroglucagon and PYY, which are both products of intestinal L cells. In addition, these studies reveal marked changes in enteric neuropeptide concentrations following bowel resection. VIP, which is thought to be a major inhibitory transmitter in the gut, is markedly reduced, while CGRP, which is mainly localized in sensory afferent fibers, is increased. These major neuropeptide changes are likely to be of importance in the adaptive responses to massive small bowel resection.