Substance P is present in intrinsic nerves in the intestine and in some extrinsic sensory nerves. It can be released from these nerves to act on the muscle layers and on other enteric neurons. Immunohistochemical studies show that the enteric substance P neurons are short and branch profusely to supply all intestinal layers. Pharmacological studies indicate that enteric substance P neurons receive inputs from enteric cholinergic interneurons. This suggests that these neurons are part of multineuronal nerve pathways in the intestine. The substance P neurons are not essential for the enteric reflexes which subserve peristalsis but they appear to modulate these reflexes.