PACAP was isolated on the basis of its ability to stimulate adenylate cyclase in primary anterior pituitary cell culture from ovine hypothalami by Miyata et al. in 1989. This peptide is structurally related to the secretin family and shows a 67% sequence homology with vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP). The amino acid sequence of PACAP has been highly preserved during the evolution that may be connected with its important physiological role. Similar to other "brain-gut peptides" PACAP is localized not only in the central but in the peripheral nervous system and in non-neural tissues as well. In addition to its hypophysiotropic effects in the hypothalamo-hypophysial system PACAP exerts its effects on water-salt balance, cardiovascular functions, gastrointestinal motility and secretion and also on the regulation of reproductive functions. PACAP has a role in certain neuro-immuno-endocrine processes, in the differentiation of the nervous system, and it has neuroprotective effects in the case of ischaemia and various toxic agents. Locally PACAP takes its effects as an auto- and paracrine hormone, a neurotransmitter or a neuromodulator in different organs. Besides VIP, PACAP plays an important role in the function of the photo-neuro-endocrine system.