Contractions of canine pylorus and adjacent muscles were recorded with antral and duodenal strain gauges and a Dent sleeve manometric assembly with additional side holes in the pylorus. In vivo, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) and peptide histamine isoleucine (PHI) given through the gastroepiploic artery inhibited both spontaneous and acetylcholine-induced pyloric contractions, before and after neural blockade with tetrodotoxin. Galanin inhibited only nerve-stimulated contractions. VIP greater than PHI much greater than galanin inhibited pyloric motor activity initiated by field stimulation of duodenal intramural nerves or intraduodenal infusion of 0.1 N HCl. In vitro, forskolin or field stimulation of nerves inhibited contractions of the pyloric muscle induced by various agonists but VIP-PHI failed to inhibit these contractions on two-thirds of the strips. The in vivo results suggest that VIP (or PHI) may be an inhibitory mediator in the pylorus acting directly on smooth muscle. Galanin may inhibit neural excitatory pathways in the pylorus. However, the structures on which VIP and PHI act in vivo may have become nonfunctional in vitro and other mediators account for the neural inhibition observed in isolated strips.