Microinjection of gastrin releasing peptide (GRP) into the third ventricle or the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) induces circadian phase shifts similar to those produced by light. Administration of GRP during the day does not alter circadian phase. In contrast, neuropeptide Y (NPY) induces phase shifts of circadian rhythms during the day but has little effect when administered at night, similar to the effects of most non-photic stimuli. NPY inhibits the phase shifting effects of light, and GRP is thought to be part of the photic signaling system within the SCN. This experiment was designed to test whether GRP and NPY inhibit each other's effects on circadian phase. Adult male Syrian hamsters equipped with guide cannulas aimed at the SCN were housed in constant darkness until stable free-running rhythms of wheel running activity were apparent. Microinjection of GRP during the early subjective night induced phase delays that were blocked by simultaneous administration of NPY. During the middle of the subjective day, microinjection of NPY caused phase advances that were blocked by simultaneous administration of GRP. These data suggest that GRP and NPY oppose each other's effects on the circadian clock, and that the actions of NPY on the photic phase shifting mechanism in the SCN occur at least in part downstream from retinorecipient cells.