Ghrelin is a newly discovered orexigenic peptide originating from the stomach. However, its action in regulating the fed and fasted motor activity of the digestive tract is not fully understood. In the present study, we examined the effects of intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) and intravenous (i.v.) injection of ghrelin on the physiological fed and fasted motor activities in the stomach and duodenum of freely moving conscious rats. i.c.v. and i.v. injection of ghrelin induced fasted motor activity in the duodenum in normal fed rats, while i.v. injection of ghrelin induced fasted motor activity in both the stomach and duodenum in vagotomized rats. The effects of i.c.v. and i.v. injected ghrelin were blocked by growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R) antagonist given by the same route and also blocked by immunoneutralization of neuropeptide Y (NPY) in the brain. The effects of i.v. injected ghrelin were not altered by i.c.v. injection of GHS-R antagonist in vagotomized rats. Injection of GHS-R antagonist blocked the fasted motor activity in both the stomach and duodenum in vagotomized rats but did not affect the fasted motor activity in normal rats. Low intragastric pH inhibited the effect of ghrelin. The present results indicate that ghrelin is involved in regulation of fasted motor activity in the stomach and duodenum. Peripheral ghrelin may induce the fasted motor activity by activating the NPY neurons in the brain, probably through ghrelin receptors on vagal afferent neurons. Once the brain mechanism is eliminated by truncal vagotomy, ghrelin might be primarily involved in the regulation of fasted motor activity through ghrelin receptors on the stomach and duodenum. The action of ghrelin to induce fasted motor activity is strongly affected by intragastric pH; low pH inhibits the action.