The regional haemodynamic effects of rat or human urotensin II (U-II) 3, 30, 300 and 3000 pmol kg(-1), i.v.) were assessed in separate groups of conscious, unrestrained, male, Sprague-Dawley rats (n=8 in each). Rat and human U-II had similar effects. At a dose of 3 pmol kg(-1), neither peptide had any significant action, while at a dose of 30 pmol kg(-1), there was a transient mesenteric vasodilatation (significant only for rat U-II). At doses of 300 and 3000 pmol kg(-1), there were dose-dependent tachycardias, and mesenteric and hindquarters hyperaemic vasodilatations. Thus, in conscious rats, the predominant cardiovascular action of rat and human U-II is vasodilatation. This is in contrast to recent findings with human U-II in non-human primates, but is consistent with effects on human isolated resistance vessels.