We tested the hypothesis that vasomotor control is differentially regulated between feed arteries and downstream arterioles from the cremaster muscle of C57BL/6 mice. In isolated pressurized arteries, confocal Ca(2+) imaging of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) revealed Ca(2+) sparks and Ca(2+) waves. Ryanodine receptor (RyR) antagonists (ryanodine and tetracaine) inhibited both sparks and waves but increased global Ca(2+) and myogenic tone. In arterioles, SMCs exhibited only Ca(2+) waves that were insensitive to ryanodine or tetracaine. Pharmacological interventions indicated that RyRs are functionally coupled to large-conductance, Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels (BK(Ca)) in SMCs of arteries, whereas BK(Ca) appear functionally coupled to voltage-gated Ca2+ channels in SMCs of arterioles. Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R) antagonists (xestospongin D or 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate) or a phospholipase C inhibitor (U73122) attenuated Ca(2+) waves, global Ca(2+) and myogenic tone in arteries and arterioles but had no effect on arterial sparks. Real-time PCR of isolated SMCs revealed RyR2 as the most abundant isoform transcript; arteries expressed twice the RyR2 but only 65% the RyR3 of arterioles and neither vessel expressed RyR1. Immunofluorescent localisation of RyR protein indicated bright, clustered staining of arterial SMCs in contrast to diffuse staining in arteriolar SMCs. Expression of IP(3)R transcripts and protein immunofluorescence were similar in SMCs of both vessels with IP(3)R1>>IP(3)R2>IP(3)R3. Despite similar expression of IP(3)Rs and dependence of Ca(2+) waves on IP(3)Rs, these data illustrate pronounced regional heterogeneity in function and expression of RyRs between SMCs of the same vascular resistance network. We conclude that vasomotor control is differentially regulated in feed arteries vs. downstream arterioles.