Pituitary adenylyl cyclase activating peptide (PACAP) is expressed in central, sensory, autonomic, and enteric neurons. Although it classically acts as a neurotransmitter/neuromodulator, recent studies indicate that PACAP can also regulate immune function. To this effect, PACAP has been shown to reduce clinical symptoms and inflammation in mouse models of human immune-based diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's Disease, septic shock and multiple sclerosis. Despite these findings, the role of the endogenous peptide in regulating immune function is unknown. To determine if endogenous PACAP plays a protective role in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and IBD-associated colorectal cancer in mice, PACAP-deficient (KO) mice were subjected to 3 cycles of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) in drinking water over 2 months, an established mouse model for colitis. Compared to wild type (WT) controls, PACAP KO mice exhibited more severe clinical symptoms of colitis and had significantly higher colonic inflammation on pathological examination. Moreover, 60% of the PACAP KO mice developed colorectal tumors with an aggressive-appearing pathology. Consistent with published data, DSS-treated WT mice did not develop such tumors. The results demonstrate a new mouse model which rapidly develops inflammation-associated colorectal cancer in the absence of a carcinogen. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.