Intravenous injection of acetaldehyde produced hypotensive actions in pentobarbital-anaesthetised whole rats, but hypertensive actions in pithed rats. The hypotensive effects of acetaldehyde in whole rats were abolished by pre-treatment with yohimbine. In pithed rats, the hypertensive effects of acetaldehyde were significantly attenuated by prazosin and phentolamine, and in rats that had been pre-treated with reserpine. Our results suggest that the hypertensive actions of acetaldehyde in pithed rats are due to the release of catecholamines, which subsequently leads to vasoconstriction. In whole rats the hypotensive actions of acetaldehyde may be due to alpha2-adrenoceptor stimulation in the central nervous or peripheral system.