1. We have measured arterial blood pressure between 115 and 145 days gestation in normally grown fetal sheep (control group; n = 16) and in fetal sheep in which growth was restricted by experimental restriction of placental growth and development (PR group; n = 13). There was no significant difference in the mean gestational arterial blood pressure between the PR (42.7 +/- 2.6 mmHg) and control groups (37.7 +/- 2.3 mmHg). Mean arterial blood pressure and arterial PO2 were significantly correlated in control animals (r = 0.53, P < 0.05, n = 16), but not in the PR group. 2. There were no changes in mean arterial blood pressure in either the PR or control groups in response to captopril (7.5 microg captopril min-1; PR group n = 7, control group n = 6) between 115 and 125 days gestation. After 135 days gestation, there was a significant decrease (P < 0.05) in the fetal arterial blood pressure in the PR group but not in the control group during the captopril infusion (15 microg captopril min-1; PR group n = 7, control group n = 6). 3. There was a significant effect (F = 14.75; P < 0.001) of increasing doses of angiotensin II on fetal diastolic blood pressure in the PR and control groups. The effects of angiotensin II were different (F = 8.67; P < 0.05) in the PR and control groups at both gestational age ranges. 4. These data indicate that arterial blood pressure may be maintained by different mechanisms in growth restricted fetuses and normally grown counterparts and suggests a role for the fetal renin-angiotensin system in the maintenance of blood pressure in growth restricted fetuses.