The present study was aimed to clarify the role of purinergic signalling in the regulation of ingestion behaviour. The ATP/ADP analogues 2-methylthioATP (2-MeSATP) and adenosine 5′-O-(2-thiodiphosphate) (ADPβS) increased the food intake after intracerebroventricular infusion in 18-h food-deprived rats. This effect was abolished by pretreatment with the non-selective P2X/P2Y receptor antagonist pyridoxalphosphate-6-azophenyl-2′,4′-disulphonic acid (PPADS) or the selective P2Y1 receptor antagonist MRS 2179, respectively. The stimulation of food intake mediated by ADPβS was also blocked by pretreatment with the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor Nw-nitro-l-arginine methylester (L-NAME), as well as with the inhibitor of the soluble guanylyl cyclase 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ), suggesting that the orexigenic effect seems to be closely related with the ensuing formation of nitric oxide. The immunohistochemical staining indicating a co-localization of P2Y1 receptor- and nNOS-immunoreactivities in a population of neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH) agrees with this assumption. Further experiments with the direct local application of these compounds into the VMH and lateral hypothalamic nucleus (LH) show that the stimulation of P2Y1 receptors in these functionally antagonistic brain regions exerts an increased food intake. Hence, different signal transduction mechanisms may operate in the VMH and LH. Our assumption is supported by distinct effects of the NOS inhibitor L-NAME in these two hypothalamic nuclei. The present data suggest that ATP/ADP, acting as extracellular signal molecules in the rat brain, are involved in the regulation of food intake, possibly depending on P2Y1-receptor-mediated nitric oxide production.