We examined the role of the cholecystokinin-A (CCK-A) receptor in acute inflammatory and regenerative stages of experimental pancreatitis using a rat model lacking the CCK-A receptor [Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) rats]. OLETF and control [Long-Evans Tokushima Otsuka (LETO)] rats were prepared with an internal bile fistula and with obstruction of pancreatic flow and were sacrificed 1-14 days later. Histological examination was performed, and changes in pancreatic wet weight, protein concentration, CCK-A and -B receptor mRNA levels, tyrosine kinase activities, and plasma amylase and CCK levels were determined. The plasma amylase level showed a transient increase on day I, the CCK level remained at high levels throughout, and tyrosine kinase activity was increased significantly on day 3 but declined thereafter. These parameters were comparable for both strains during the acute inflammatory stage. However, no regenerative findings were observed by histological examination and the protein concentration in the pancreas was significantly lower in OLETF rats on days 7-14, during which time regeneration was completed in LETO rats. These observations indicate that the absence of the CCK-A receptor did not modify the acute phase of pancreatitis but significantly retarded regeneration of the pancreatic tissue.