Laboratory rats, throughout the 24. hour day, alternate between behaviorally active and non active episodes that Kleitman called the basic rest-activity cycle (BRAC). We previously demonstrated that brown adipose tissue (BAT), body and brain temperatures and arterial pressure and heart rate increase in an integrated manner during behaviorally active phases. Studies show that eating is preceded by increases in body and brain temperature, but whether eating is integrated into the BRAC has not been investigated. In the present study of chronically instrumented, unrestrained Sprague-Dawley rats, peaks in BAT temperature occurred every 96 ± 7 and 162 ± 16 min (mean ± SE, n = 14 rats) in dark and light periods respectively, with no apparent underlying regularity. With food available ad libitum, eating was integrated into the BRAC in a temporally precise manner. Eating occurred only after an increase in BAT temperature, commencing 15 ± 1. min (mean ± SE) after the onset of an increase, with no difference between dark and light phases. There were either no or weak preprandial and postprandial relations between intermeal interval and amount eaten during a given meal. Remarkably, with no food available the rat still disturbed the empty food container 16 ± 1 min (p > 0.05 versus ad libitum food) after the onset of increases in BAT temperature, and not at other times. Rather than being triggered by changes in levels of body fuels or other meal-associated factors, in sedentary laboratory rats with ad libitum access to food eating commences as part of the ultradian BRAC, a manifestation of intrinsic brain activity.