We did four experiments to determine whether the lateral hypothalamus-perifornical (LH/PF) region is the source of neuronal cell bodies responsible for producing the cardiovascular (CV) responses associated with emotion or the defense reaction. Of particular concern was whether the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) plays a role in the generation of these CV responses. Mapping the hypothalamus with electrical stimulation showed that the CV pattern of responses was never produced by stimulating the PVN and was invariably produced by stimulating the LH/PF region. Complete electrolytic destruction of the PVN and subsequent axonal degeneration did not change the CV pattern of responses elicited by LH/PF stimulation, whereas any encroachment of the lesion on the LH/PF region decreased the magnitude of the CV responses. Injection of the neuroexcitotoxin ibotenic acid (Ibo) into the PVN did not affect responses to LH/PF stimulation, whereas Ibo injection into the LH/PF region eliminated or severely attenuated the CV responses. Retrograde labeling of cells from the thoracic cord and the ventrolateral reticular formation revealed a scattered group of cells in the LH/PF region that may be the cells controlling the CV responses. These results point directly to the LH/PF region as the source of the cell bodies responsible for the autonomic responses associated with emotion or defense reactions.