Levels of endogenous somatostatin, gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP), glucagon and insulin were measured during gastric (abomasal) emptying in the conscious calf. Isotonic NaHCO3 infused into the duodenum increased rates of emptying of a saline test meal and of gastric acid secretion, but had no effect on basal levels of blood glucose, somatostatin, GIP, insulin or glucagon. By contrast, intraduodenal infusion of 60 mm-HCl caused complete inhibition of gastric emptying, reduction of acid secretion, and an immediate increase in plasma somatostatin from 121·3 ± 9·4 (s.e.m.) to 286·3 ± 16·3 pg/ml (P <0·01) but levels of GIP, insulin, glucagon and glucose were unaltered. Intravenous injection of somatostatin (0·5 μg/kg) suppressed the antral electromyographic recording and gastric efflux so long as plasma somatostatin levels remained above approx. 200 pg/ml. This suggests that somatostatin can be released by intraduodenal acidification and that it inhibits gastric function by an endocrine effect. Since somatostatin retards gastric emptying it may therefore have an indirect role in nutrient homeostasis by limiting discharge of gastric chyme to the duodenum.