Key points: The gut hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is a strong moderator of energy homeostasis and communication between the peripheral organs and the brain. GLP-1 signalling occurs in the brain; using a newly developed genetic reporter line of mice, we have discovered GLP-synthesizing cells in the olfactory bulb. GLP-1 increases the firing frequency of neurons (mitral cells) that encode olfactory information by decreasing activity of voltage-dependent K channels (Kv1.3). Modifying GLP-1 levels, either therapeutically or following the ingestion of food, could alter the excitability of neurons in the olfactory bulb in a nutrition or energy state-dependent manner to influence olfactory detection or metabolic sensing. The results of the present study uncover a new function for an olfactory bulb neuron (deep short axon cells, Cajal cells) that could be capable of modifying mitral cell activity through the release of GLP-1. This might be of relevance for the action of GLP-1 mimetics now widely used in the treatment of diabetes. The olfactory system is intricately linked with the endocrine system where it may serve as a detector of the internal metabolic state or energy homeostasis in addition to its classical function as a sensor of external olfactory information. The recent development of transgenic mGLU-yellow fluorescent protein mice that express a genetic reporter under the control of the preproglucagon reporter suggested the presence of the gut hormone, glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), in deep short axon cells (Cajal cells) of the olfactory bulb and its neuromodulatory effect on mitral cell (MC) first-order neurons. A MC target for the peptide was determined using GLP-1 receptor binding assays, immunocytochemistry for the receptor and injection of fluorescence-labelled GLP-1 analogue exendin-4. Using patch clamp recording of olfactory bulb slices in the whole-cell configuration, we report that GLP-1 and its stable analogue exendin-4 increase the action potential firing frequency of MCs by decreasing the interburst interval rather than modifying the action potential shape, train length or interspike interval. GLP-1 decreases Kv1.3 channel contribution to outward currents in voltage clamp recordings as determined by pharmacological blockade of Kv1.3 or utilizing mice with Kv1.3 gene-targeted deletion as a negative control. Because fluctuations in GLP-1 concentrations monitored by the olfactory bulb can modify the firing frequency of MCs, olfactory coding could change depending upon nutritional or physiological state. As a regulator of neuronal activity, GLP-1 or its analogue may comprise a new metabolic factor with a potential therapeutic target in the olfactory bulb (i.e. via intranasal delivery) for controlling an imbalance in energy homeostasis.