Food anticipatory hormonal responses (cephalic responses) are proactive physiological processes, that allow animals to prepare for food ingestion by modulating their hormonal levels in response to food cues. This process is important for digesting food, metabolizing nutrients and maintaining glucose levels within homeostasis. In this systematic review, we summarize the evidence from animal and human research on cephalic responses. Thirty-six animal and fifty-three human studies were included. The majority (88 %) of studies demonstrated that hormonal levels are changed in response to cues previously associated with food intake, such as feeding time, smell, and sight of food. Most evidence comes from studies on insulin, ghrelin, pancreatic polypeptide, glucagon, and c-peptide. Moreover, impaired cephalic responses were found in disorders related to metabolism and food intake such as diabetes, pancreatic insufficiency, obesity, and eating disorders, which opens discussions about the etiological mechanisms of these disorders as well as on potential therapeutic opportunities.