Résumé : The present review is focused on the exocrine pancreas and liver where the only known effector mechanism of VIP is the activation of adenylate cyclase in plasma membranes. A two-state model of activation-deactivation of the enzyme visualizes the participation of VIP receptors and Ns, the guanyl nucleotide stimulatory protein of adenylate cyclase. In the rat pancreas, VIP and GRF receptors are indistinguishable and disulfide bridges influence their functional integrity. The antagonism of VIP and somatostatin perhaps requires, at the adenylate cyclase level, the contribution of Ni, the guanyl nucleotide inhibitory protein. The potentiation of VIP by various stimulants acting on Ca2+ movements may rely on later events, e.g., on a concerted activation of protein kinases. When comparing quantitatively peptide binding to receptors with adenylate cyclase activation, cyclic AMP levels and amylase secretion, a tool is at hand to tailor synthetic agonists and antagonists of VIP, with appropriate changes in the N-terminal moiety of the peptide (a good agonist allows efficient coupling of receptors to the adenylate cyclase system). Apart from stimulus-secretion coupling, VIP may influence protein synthesis in the rat pancreas, through the phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6, and may alter the activity of the endoplasmic reticulum via the phosphorylation of Mr = 21 kDa and Mr = 25 kDa proteins. In rat liver membranes, high affinity VIP receptors are specifically labelled with 125I-helodermin and are coupled to adenylate cyclase (at variance with low affinity VIP receptors). These receptors are highly responsive to divalent cations and to guanyl nucleotides.