The purpose of the study was to examine the role of P2 purinergic receptors in mechanisms of cardiovascular control mediated by the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), a major integrative site in the brainstem involved in the reflex coordination of cardiorespiratory and visceral response patterns. Microinjections of ATP and its analogues were made into the subpostremal NTS of anesthetized, spontaneously breathing rats. ATP, alpha,beta-methylene ATP (alpha beta-meATP) and 2-methylthio-ATP (2-meSATP) produced significant dose-related reductions in arterial blood pressure. alpha beta-meATP was slightly more potent than ATP and 2-meSATP. Pretreatment with the P2 receptor antagonist, suramin (0.5 nmol/rat), into the same NTS site 10 min prior to agonist administration completely blocked pronounced depressor response pattern elicited by the highest dose of alpha beta-meATP (0.1 nmol/rat). The present findings suggest that endogenous ATP may serve as a fast transmitter substance in NTS-mediated mechanisms of cardiovascular control.