The cardiovascular effects of microinjection of angiotensin II (AII) into the area postrema (AP), nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) and rostroventrolateral medulla were studied in urethane anesthetized sham-normotensive (NT) and two-kidney, one-clip renal hypertensive rats. Microinjection of AII (2-2000 ng) in the AP of renal hypertensive rats elicited a dose-dependent decrease in blood pressure, heart rate and renal sympathetic nerve activity. Similar effects were observed in the NTS. In the NT rats, low doses of AII (2 and 20 ng), either in the AP or NTS, were also depressor. High doses of AII (200-2000 ng) were needed to observe a modest pressor effect in the NT animals. A decrease in heart rate and renal sympathetic activity was observed with the pressor effect. The AII-antagonist, [Sar1,Val5,Ala8]-AII, into the NTS or AP increased blood pressure and heart rate and inhibited the cardiovascular effects of low doses of AII in both group of rats. In contrast, [Sar1,Val5,Ala8]AII did not affect the pressor action of high doses of AII in the NT group. While the microinjection of AII into the rostroventrolateral medulla did not produce any significant cardiovascular effect in the renal hypertensive group, it resulted in a modest pressor effect in the NT rats. These results indicate that acute activation of AII receptors in the AP or NTS does not contribute to the pressor effect of AII in renal hypertensive rats.