Recent studies suggest that the endocannabinoid system modulates feeding. Despite the existence of central mechanisms for the regulation of food intake by endocannabinoids, evidence indicates that peripheral mechanisms may also exist. To test this hypothesis, we investigated (1) the effects of feeding on intestinal anandamide accumulation; (2) the effects of central (intracerebro-ventricular) and peripheral (intraperitoneal) administration of the endocannabinoid agonist anandamide, the synthetic cannabinoid agonist R-(+)-(2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3-[(4-morpholinyl) methyl]pyrol[1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazin-6-yl)(1-naphthalenyl) methanone monomethanesulfonate (WIN55,212-2), and the CB1-selective antagonist N-piperidino-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-(2, 4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methylpyrazole-3-carboxamide (SR141716A) on food intake in rats; and (3) the effects of sensory deafferentation on the modulation of feeding by cannabinoids. Food deprivation produced a sevenfold increase in anandamide content in the small intestine but not in the brain or stomach. Refeeding normalized intestinal anandamide levels. Peripheral but not central administration of anandamide or WIN55,212-2 promoted hyperphagia in partially satiated rats. Similarly, peripheral but not central administration of SR141716A reduced food intake. Capsaicin deafferentation abolished the peripheral effects of both cannabinoid agonists and antagonists, suggesting that these agents modulate food intake by acting on CB1 receptors located on capsaicin-sensitive sensory terminals. Oleoylethanolamide, a noncannabinoid fatty ethanolamide that acts peripherally, prevented hyperphagia induced by the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide. Pretreatment with SR141716A enhanced the inhibition of feeding induced by intraperitoneal administration of oleoylethanolamide. The results reveal an unexpected role for peripheral CB1 receptors in the regulation of feeding.