Several peptides were detected in primary sensory neurons located in nodose and dorsal root ganglia and projecting from rat cecum and rectosigmoid, through a combination of retrograde staining by the fluorescent tracer DY-2HCl and of the immunofluorescent procedure of Coons. The three larger cell populations thus identified stored immunoreactive components respectively similar to calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), substance P (SP), and a peptide related to peptide histidine methionine (PHM). The later immunoreactivity consisted of a single molecular form with an apparent molecular weight smaller than PHM itself. Fewer cells contained components immunologically similar to somatostatin 14 (ST14), to the 1-14 N-terminal sequence of somatostatin 28 (1-14 S28), and to neuropeptide Y (NPY). Neonatal treatment with capsaicin resulted in a drastic reduction of immunoreactivity for SP, PHM, ST14, 1-14 S28, and in a partial reduction of CGRP-like positive perikarya. These results demonstrate that several peptides are potentially involved in the sensory innervation of the lower gut in rat.