Central administration of angiotensin II (ANG II) increases arterial blood pressure via increased sympathetic activity. We have examined the possibility that one site of action of ANG II is the subretrofacial (SRF) nucleus in the rostral ventrolateral medulla, since this nucleus is known to play a critical role in the tonic and phasic control of arterial pressure. In vitro autoradiography, employing 125I-labeled [Sar1, Ile8]ANG II as radioligand, was used to localize binding sites for ANG II in the cat ventrolateral medulla. A high density of ANG II-receptor binding sites was found confined to the SRF nucleus. In a second group of experiments in anesthetized cats, microinjections of ANG II, in doses ranging from 10 to 50 pmol, were made into histologically identified sites within and outside the SRF nucleus. Microinjections into the nucleus resulted in a dose-dependent increase in arterial pressure, which was abolished by systemic administration of the ganglion-blocking drug hexamethonium bromide. In contrast, microinjections just outside the SRF nucleus had no effect on arterial pressure. It is concluded that activation of ANG II-receptor binding sites within the SRF nucleus leads to an increase in arterial pressure via increased sympathetic efferent activity.