Objective - To determine whether substance P (SP) functions as a neurotransmitter in equine jejunum. Sample Population - Samples of jejunum obtained from horses that did not have lesions in the gastrointestinal tract. Procedure - Jejunal smooth muscle strips, oriented in the plane of the circular or longitudinal muscle, were suspended isometrically in muscle baths. Neurotransmitter release was induced by electrical field stimulation (EFS) delivered at 2 intensities (30 and 70 V) and various frequencies on muscle strips that were maintained at low tension or were under contraction. A neurokinin-1 receptor blocker (CP-96,345) was added to baths prior to EFS to interrupt SP neurotransmission. Additionally, direct effects of SP on muscle strips were evaluated, and SP-like immunoreactivity was localized in intestinal tissues, using indirect immunofluorescence testing. Results - Substance P contracted circularly and longitudinally oriented muscle strips. Prior treatment with CP-96,345 altered muscle responses to SP and EFS, suggesting that SP was released from depolarized myenteric neurons. Depending on orientation of muscle strips and stimulation variables used, CP-96,345 increased or decreased the contractile response to EFS. Substance P-like immunoreactivity was detected in the myenteric plexus and circular muscle layers. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Substance P appears to function as a neurotransmitter in equine jejunum. It apparently modulates smooth muscle contractility, depending on preexisting conditions. Effects of SP may be altered in some forms of intestinal dysfunction. Altering SP neurotransmission in the jejunum may provide a therapeutic option for motility disorders of horses that are unresponsive to adrenergic and cholinergic drugs.