Multiunit celiac and single-unit cervical recordings of vagal afferents were performed before and during infusions of fatty acids, triglycerides, or saline into either the ileum or jejunum of the rat. In multiunit recordings, lipids increased activity of vagal afferents to a greater extent than saline. The greatest increases in vagal afferent activity resulted from infusions of linoleic acid, conjugated linoleic acid, or oleic acid. The triglycerides, corn oil or Intralipid, were less effective than the fatty acids in affecting vagal afferent activity. Ileal pretreatment with the hydrophobic surfactant Pluronic L-81 significantly attenuated the response of celiac vagal afferents to ileal infusion of linoleic acid. Single-unit recordings of cervical vagal afferents supported the multiunit data in showing lipid-induced increased vagal afferent activity in approximately 50% of ileal units sampled and 100% of a limited number of jejunal units sampled. These data demonstrate that free fatty acids can activate ileal and jejunal vagal afferents in the rat, and this effect can be attenuated by pretreatment with a chylomicron inhibitor. These data are consistent with the view that lipid-induced activation of vagal afferents could be a potential substrate for the inhibitory effects of intestinal lipids on gastrointestinal function, food intake, and body weight gain.