The neuropeptide Y (NPY) system in the brain regulates a wide variety of behavioral, metabolic and hormonal homeostatic processes required for energy balance control. During times of limited food availability, NPY promotes behavioral hyperactivity necessary to explore and prepare for novel food resources. As NPY can act via 5 different receptor subtypes, we investigated the path through which NPY affects different behavioral components relevant for adaptation to such conditions. We tested NPY Y1 and Y2 receptor knockout mice and their wild-type littermate controls in a daily scheduled limited food access paradigm with unlimited access to running wheel. Here we show that NPY Y1 receptor deficient mice lack the expression of appetitive behavior and that NPY Y2 receptors control the level of hyperactive behavior under these conditions. Thus, receptor specificity determines the differential expression of NPY-mediated behavioral adaptations to overcome a negative energy status.