Since bombesin is a potent stimulus of the release of cholecystokinin (CCK), it has been suggested that the stimulatory effect of bombesin on pancreatic enzyme secretion is mediated by CCK. The present study was undertaken to determine the role of CCK in the bombesin-induced stimulation of plasma immunoreactive trypsin. Plasma CCK was measured by radioimmunoassay using the antibody T204, which binds to all biologically active sulfated COOH-terminal CCK-peptides. Plasma trypsin was also measured by radioimmunoassay. Infusion of 5 ng/kg/min bombesin in 6 healthy volunteers increased plasma CCK from 1.2 +/- 0.2-8.9 +/- 0.7 pM (p less than 0.0001). The peak increment in plasma CCK during bombesin (9.3 +/- 0.6 pM) was accompanied by a significant rise in plasma trypsin from 206 +/- 21-334 +/- 44 ng/ml (p less than 0.01). However, when similar increases in plasma CCK were achieved by infusion of 0.018 CU/kg/min CCK-33 (9.9 +/- 0.8 pM) or by intraduodenal instillation of 250 ml 20% Intralipid (9.7 +/- 1.9 pM), no significant changes in plasma trypsin were observed. It is therefore concluded that the stimulatory effect of bombesin on plasma immunoreactive trypsin is not mediated by CCK.