1. I.v. injection of 1 or 3 micrograms capsaicin led to a triphasic blood pressure response in Sprague-Dawley rats but, in contrast to Wistar rats, did not affect heart rate and respiration. The blood pressure response was a sequence of fall (A), return to normal levels or slight rise (B), and fall (C) in blood pressure. The blood pressure response to capsaicin remained unchanged after treatment with adrenoceptor or cholinoceptor antagonists. 2. The initial fall in blood pressure (A) was absent after bilateral vagotomy and in the pithed rat. The delayed fall in blood pressure (C) remained unchanged after vagotomy, but was absent after neonatal capsaicin pretreatment and in the pithed rat. Effect B was not diminished after vagotomy or despinalization: it was augmented in rats treated neonatally with capsaicin. 3. I.a. injection of capsaicin into the hind leg caused a reflex fall in blood pressure which was changed to a reflex rise in rats treated with capsaicin as neonates. 4. The initial and the delayed fall in blood pressure after i.v. injection of capsaicin seems to be reflex responses to stimulation of capsaicin-sensitive small diameter afferent fibres. The intermediate rise in blood pressure appears to result mainly from a direct short vasoconstriction by capsaicin.