The oxyntic mucosa of the mammalian stomach is rich in endocrine cells, such as ECL cells, A-like cells, somatostatin cells, D1/P cells and, in some species, enterochromaffin cells. The various endocrine cell types can be distinguished on the basis of their characteristic cytoplasmic granules and vesicles. The ECL cells contain numerous large secretory vesicles and relatively few, small electron-dense granules and small clear microvesicles. We have suggested that in the rat the ECL cells contain most of the gastric histamine with the secretory vesicles as the major histamine storage site in these cells. alpha-Fluoromethylhistidine is an irreversible inhibitor of histidine decarboxylase, the histamine-forming enzyme. We have previously shown that this enzyme inhibitor depletes histamine from the ECL cells in the rat and reduces the number of secretory vesicles in the cytoplasm. In the present study, we have examined whether alpha-fluoromethylhistidine affects the ECL cells in other species and whether it affects other types of endocrine cells in the oxyntic mucosa of the rat. Mice, rats and hamsters were treated with the inhibitor (3 mg/kg per h) via minipumps subcutaneously for 24 h. This treatment lowered the oxyntic mucosal histamine concentration by 65-90% and the number and volume density of the secretory vesicles by 85-95% in the ECL cells of the three species examined. In contrast, the number and volume density of granules and microvesicles were not greatly affected. No evidence was found for an effect of alpha-fluoromethylhistidine on A-like cells, somatostatin cells or D1/P cells of the rat stomach, suggesting that, unlike the ECL cells, they do not contain histamine.