The arterial baroreceptor control of the sinus node operating in unanesthetized conditions was evaluated in 10 cats in which blood pressure was recorded intra-arterially and scanned by a computer to identify the "spontaneous" sequences of three or more consecutive beats in which systolic blood pressure (SBP) progressively rose and pulse interval (PI) progressively lengthened (type 1 sequences) or SBP progressively fell and PI progressively shortened (type 2 sequences). Many type 1 and 2 three-beat sequences were found; four-, five-, and six-beat sequences of either type were progressively less common, and sequences longer than six beats were almost never identified. The regression coefficient was 30% greater for type 1 than for type 2 sequences. However a prominent feature of either regression coefficient was a wide scattering in each cat (average variation coefficient 50.9 +/- 5.5%). The regression coefficient values were related to some extent to the PI but not to the SBP existing at the beginning of the sequence. Sinoaortic denervation dramatically reduced the number of sequences of either type. These data validate a method for collecting a large number of observations on the baroreceptor-heart rate reflex in physiological conditions. This method may improve understanding of baroreflex involvement in integrated cardiovascular regulation.