The effects of repeated sensory stimulation (electro-acupuncture) and physical exercise (running) on open-field behaviour and on hippocampal concentrations of neuropeptide Y, neurokinin A, substance P, galanin and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)-like immunoreactivities were studied in WKY (Wistar-Kyoto) and SHR (spontaneously hypertensive) rats. Significantly higher concentrations of substance P-like immunoreactivity, neurokinin A-like immunoreactivity and neuropeptide Y-like immunoreactivity were found in the hippocampus immediately after 3 weeks of treatment (electro-acupuncture and running), but not 1 week after the last (tenth) intervention. No changes in galanin-like immunoreactivity and VIP-like immunoreactivity were found. The changes in neuropeptide concentrations were similar in the two rat strains. Open-field behaviour was significantly reduced during the treatment period in both strains. There were significant negative correlations between behaviour and neuropeptide concentrations in SHR rats, suggesting interdependency with sympathetic activity. It is proposed that the effects of electro-acupuncture and physical exercise in rats are related to increases in neuropeptide Y, neurokinin A and substance P in the hippocampus.