Dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DP-IV) is a cell surface serine dipeptidase that is involved in the regulation of the incretin hormones, glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP). There is accumulating evidence that other members of the glucagon family of peptides are also endogenous substrates for this enzyme. To identify candidate substrates for DP-IV, a mass spectrometry-based protease assay was developed that measures cleavage efficiencies (kcat/Km) of polypeptides in a mixture, using only a few picomoles of each substrate and physiological amounts of enzyme in a single kinetic experiment. Oxyntomodulin and the growth hormone-(1-43) fragment were identified as new candidate in vivo substrates. Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide-(1-38) (PACAP38), a critical mediator of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, was also determined to be efficiently processed by DP-IV in vitro. The catabolism of exogenously administered PACAP38 in wild type and DP-IV-deficient C57Bl/6 mice was monitored by tandem mass spectrometry. Animals lacking DP-IV exhibited a significantly slower clearance of the circulating peptide with virtually complete suppression of the inactive DP-IV metabolite, PACAP-(3-38). These in vivo results suggest that DP-IV plays a major role in the degradation of circulating PACAP38.