INTRODUCTION: This study examined the regulatory mechanism underlying the meal-induced changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal gland (HPA) axis activity. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Male Sprague-Dawley rats (250-300 g) were hired for two different experiments as follows; 1) rats received either 8% sucrose or 0.2% saccharin ad libitum after 48 h of food deprivation with the gastric fistula closed (real feeding) or opened (sham feeding). 2). rats received 5 ml of intra-oral infusion with 0.2% saccharin or distilled water after 48 h of food deprivation. One hour after food access, all rats were sacrificed by a transcardiac perfusion with 4% paraformaldehyde. The brains were processed for c-Fos immunohistochemistry and the cardiac blood was collected for the plasma corticosterone assay. RESULTS: Real feedings with sucrose or saccharin and sham feeding saccharin but not sucrose, following food deprivation decreased the plasma corticosterone level. c-Fos expression in the nucleus tractus of solitarius (NTS) of the fasted rats was increased by the consumption of sucrose but not saccharin, regardless of the feeding method. On the other hand, the consumption of sucrose or saccharin with real feeding but not the sham, induced c-Fos expression in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the fasted rats. The intra-oral infusion with saccharin or water decreased the plasma corticosterone level of the fasted rats. Intra-oral water infusion increased c-Fos expression in both the PVN and NTS, but saccharin only in the NTS in the fasted rats. CONCLUSION: Neither restoration of the fasting-induced elevation of plasma corticosterone nor the activation of neurons in the PVN and NTS after refeeding requires the palatability of food or the post-ingestive satiety and caloric load. In addition, neuronal activation in the hypothalamic PVN may not be an implication in the restoration of the fasting-induced elevation of the plasma corticosterone by oropharyngeal stimuli of palatable food.