When a short segment of arteriole is stimulated, vasomotor responses spread bidirectionally along the vessel axis purportedly via gap junctions. We used connexin40 knockout (Cx40-/-) mice to study vasomotor responses induced by 10-second trains of electrical stimulation (30 Hz, 1 ms, 30 to 50 V) in 2nd or 3rd order arterioles of the cremaster muscle. Measurements were made at the stimulation site (local) and at conducted sites (500, 1000, and 2000 microm upstream). In wild-type (Cx40+/+) animals, electrical stimulation evoked a local vasoconstriction and a conducted vasodilation that spread very rapidly along the vessel length without detectable decay. In Cx40-/- mice, the conducted dilation was converted into either vasoconstriction or a slowly developing vasodilation that decayed along the vessel length. Tetrodotoxin (TTX, 1 micromol/L) had no effect on the local vasoconstriction in either Cx40+/+ or Cx40-/- mice, but enhanced the conducted vasodilation in Cx40+/+ animals. In Cx40-/- mice, TTX abolished the conducted vasoconstriction when present and revealed a small vasodilation that decayed with distance. In the group of Cx40-/- mice in which electrical stimulation elicited a conducted vasodilation, TTX had no effect. Immunocytochemistry revealed Cx40 only in the endothelial layer of arterioles from Cx40+/+ mice and complete elimination of this connexin in the Cx40-/- animals. These results indicate that focal current stimulation causes vasoconstriction by a combination of perivascular nerve stimulation and smooth muscle activation. Moreover, electrical stimulation activates a nonneuronal, Cx40-dependent vasodilator response that spreads along the vessel length without decay.