CART mRNA and peptides are highly expressed in the anatomical structures composing the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and sympatho-adrenal system. Anatomical and functional studies suggest that CART peptides may have a role in the regulation of the neuroendocrine and autonomic responses during stress. Our previous study showed that CART peptides increased significantly in the male hypothalamus and amygdala 10 mm after the forced swim stress. The present study aimed to examine the effect of forced swim stress on CART peptide expression in selected brain regions, including those where CART peptide expression has not been reported before (frontal cortex, pons, medulla oblongata), as well as in endocrine glands related to stress in male Sprague Dawley rats. A total of 16 (n = 8) animals were used, including control groups. Rats were subjected to forced swim on two consecutive days, and sacrificed on the second day, 2 h after the termination of the stress procedure. Frontal cortex, pons, medulla oblongata, hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands were dissected and homogenized. CART peptide expression in these tissues was measured by Western Blotting and six different CART peptide fragments were identified. Our results showed that forced swim stress elicited region-specific changes in CART peptide expression. CART was upregulated in the frontal cortex, hypothalamus, medulla oblongata and adrenal gland while there was no change in the pons and pituitary. Enhanced CART peptide fragments in these brain regions and adrenal glands may have a role in the regulation of the HPA and sympatho-adrenal axis activity during stress response. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.