Peptides derived from pro-opiomelanocortin, including alpha-MSH and ACTH, play important roles in the regulation of feeding. We investigated the central effect of ACTH 1-39 (ACTH) and peptides derived from the N-terminus (ACTH 1-10, Acetyl-ACTH 1-13-amide [alpha-MSH]) and C-terminus (ACTH 18-39 and ACTH 22-39) of this peptide on feeding in 16 hour-fasted or rats fed ad libitum. As expected, ACTH reduced feeding in fed and previously fasted rats, although this anorectic effect was more pronounced in fasted rats. The N-terminal-derived peptide alpha-MSH, but not ACTH 1-10, reduced cumulative food intake over 2 h after its injection intracerebroventricularly (icv) in 16 h-fasted, but not in fed rats. In contrast, the C-terminal fragments produced a long-lasting increase in feeding in fasted, but not in fed rats. The anorectic effects of N-terminal fragments of ACTH are recognised to be mediated via melanocortin MC4 receptors. However, the orexigenic effects of the C-terminal fragments do not appear to be conducted via MC4 receptors, since neither ACTH 18-39 nor ACTH 22-39 stimulated cAMP accumulation nor inhibited the ACTH-stimulated cAMP accumulation in HEK-293 cells transfected with the recombinant MC4 receptor.