Synthetic fragments of galanin 1-29 were administered intraventricularly or into the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus for analysis of the critical amino acid sequence necessary to stimulate feeding behavior in rats. Galanin 1-29 and galanin fragment 1-16 significantly increased feeding at doses of 6 nmol microinjected into the lateral ventricles and 1 nmol microinjected into the hypothalamus. There was no significant effect of D-TRP2 galanin 1-16 microinjected into the hypothalamus, and no significant effect of galanin fragments 1-9, 10-20, 12-29, 17-29, or 21-29 microinjected intraventricularly, on food consumption. Synthetic fragments of galanin 1-29 were assayed for displacement of 125I-galanin 1-29 binding to rat hypothalamic membranes. The efficacies of the galanin fragments in the feeding paradigm were consistent with the relative affinities of these fragments for the hypothalamic galanin receptor in equilibrium binding experiments. The first 16 N-terminal amino acids appear to contain galanin agonist activity on increasing food consumption and to bind to the galanin receptor in the rat hypothalamus.