The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of oxytocin (OT) on duodenum motility in rats and the possibility that cholecystokinin (CCK) was involved in this process. The isometric contraction of longitudinal muscle strips of duodenum was monitored by polygraph. ELISA was used to measure the concentration of CCK and OT in duodenum. CCK mRNA was assayed by RT-PCR. Oxytocin receptor (OTR) and CCK in duodenum were located by immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence staining. OT (10⁻⁵ and 10⁻⁶ M) inhibited the spontaneous contraction of the muscle strips. On the contrary, atosiban (OT receptor antagonist), lorglumide (CCK₁ receptor antagonist), and tetrodotoxin (TTX, blocker of voltage-dependent Na(+) channel on nerve fiber) excited the contraction. The inhibitory effect of OT on duodenal motility was reversed by pretreatment of atosiban, lorglumide, or TTX. Exogenous OT did not influence the expression of OT mRNA in duodenum but increased the concentration of CCK in the culture medium of the cells isolated from longitudinal muscle myenteric plexus. The OTR and CCK were co-expressed in the neurons of the myenteric plexus in duodenum. We concluded that OT inhibited the contraction of the LD spontaneous contraction of rats in vitro. This effect was mediated by the CCK released from the neurons of the myenteric plexus in duodenum.