Human urotensin II-(1-11) and its N-terminally shortened analogues, human urotensin II-(4-11)-OH and human urotensin II-(4-11)-NH2 are potent vasoconstrictor peptides in isolated rat thoracic aorta. Human urotensin II-induced tonic aorta ring contractions are inhibited by the Ca2+ channel antagonists, verapamil, nitrendipine and diltiazem; D609 (Tricyclodecan-9-yl-xanthogenate, K), selective inhibitor of phosphatidylcholine-specific phospholipase C and partially by phospholipase C inhibitor U-73122 [1-[6-((17ss-3 Methoxyestra-1,3,5(10)-trien-17-yl)amino)hexyl]-1H-pyrrole-25-dione] and a selective inhibitor of phosphatidyl-inositol-specific phospholipase C-ET-18-OCH3 (Edelfosine,1-O-octadecyl-2O-methyl-rac-glycero-3-phosphorylcholine); protein kinase C inhibitors, chelerythrine and NPC-15437 [S-2,6-diamino-N-[[1-(1-oxotridecyl)-2-piperidinyl]methyl]-hexanamide dihydrochloride]; tyrosine kinase inhibitors, genistein and tyrphostin B42 and Rho-kinase inhibitor HA-1077 [1-(5-isoquinolinylsulfonyl)-homopiperazine dihydrochloride]. This indicates that human urotensin II-induced tonic contractions of the rat aorta are mediated by phospholipase C, protein kinase C, tyrosine kinases and Rho-kinase related pathways. In the high K+ medium, human urotensin II induces dose-dependent phasic oscillations of aortic rings. These are inhibited by Ca2+ channel antagonists, the phospholipase C inhibitor, U-73122 and protein kinase C inhibitors, chelerythrine and NPC-15437, indicating that human urotensin II-induced phasic oscillations of the rat aorta are mediated by phospholipase C and protein kinase C-dependent pathways. Given their close structural similarity, several somatostatin analogues, importantly containing DCys5 and DTrp7 and expressing different degrees of somatostatin receptor antagonist activity, were tested for possible inhibitory effects on human urotensin II-induced contractions of the rat aorta rings. Pre-incubation of rat aorta rings in the presence of somatostatin analogues, which are preferentially sst2 specific binders: PRL-2882; PRL-2903 and PRL-2915 at micro-molar concentrations significantly blocked the development of human urotensin II-induced tonic contractions. Somatostatin receptor antagonists dose-dependently inhibited human urotensin II-induced Ca2+ transients in rat thoracic aorta rings. These somatostatin receptor antagonists displayed moderate affinities for recombinant rat and human urotensin II receptor binding sites. The data support the suggestion that urotensin II receptor and somatostatin type 2/5 receptors display similar surface topologies and that analogues of somatostatin could provide useful lead compounds for the development of more potent urotensin II receptor antagonists.