Food intake is regulated by the hypothalamus, including the melanocortin and neuropeptide Y (NPY) systems in the arcuate nucleus. The NPY Y2 receptor (Y2R), a putative inhibitory presynaptic receptor, is highly expressed on NPY neurons in the arcuate nucleus, which is accessible to peripheral hormones. Peptide YY3-36 (PYY3-36), a Y2R agonist, is released from the gastrointestinal tract postprandially in proportion to the calorie content of a meal. Here we show that peripheral injection of PYY3-36 in rats inhibits food intake and reduces weight gain. PYY3-36 also inhibits food intake in mice but not in Y2r-null mice, which suggests that the anorectic effect requires the Y2R. Peripheral administration of PYY3-36 increases c-Fos immunoreactivity in the arcuate nucleus and decreases hypothalamic Npy messenger RNA. Intra-arcuate injection of PYY3-36 inhibits food intake. PYY3-36 also inhibits electrical activity of NPY nerve terminals, thus activating adjacent pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons. In humans, infusion of normal postprandial concentrations of PYY3-36 significantly decreases appetite and reduces food intake by 33% over 24h. Thus, postprandial elevation of PYY3-36 may act through the arcuate nucleus Y2R to inhibit feeding in a gut-hypothalamic pathway.