On the basis of biochemical and autoradiographic studies it has been shown that the inferior olivary nucleus (ION) contains predominantly angiotensin II (Ang II) receptors of the subtype 2 (AT2). In the present investigation we used microiontophoretic techniques to test the effect of Ang II on the spontaneous firing rate of rat neurones in the ION in vivo. Ang II excited the majority of histologically identified ION neurones. Furthermore, the antagonism of this angiotensin-induced excitation by selective angiotensin receptor blockers of subtype 1 and 2 (AT1 and AT2) was examined. The excitation could be blocked by low doses of the AT2-antagonists PD 123177 and CGP 42112A, whereas the AT1-antagonist DuP 753 was ineffective even at high doses. On a few occasions, however, ejection of the AT1-antagonist resulted in a potentiation of angiotensin-induced excitation. The results suggest that Ang II has an excitatory effect on a considerable number of ION neurones and that this effect is mediated by AT2-receptors.