The goal of our study was to evaluate and compare the effects of receptor blockade with different endothelin (ET) receptor antagonists on plasma concentrations of ET-1, big ET-1 and ET-3 in conscious rats. Ro 46-2005 10 mg/kg, i.v.), a novel non-peptide antagonist of both ETA and ETB receptors, increased the concentrations of ET-1 in plasma to 200 +/- 13% of basal levels (P < 0.001). This effect was dose- and time-dependent and reached a maximum at 15 min. Ro 46-2005 had no effect on plasma concentrations of big ET-1 and only a minor effect on those of ET-3. In contrast to Ro 46-2005, the selective peptide ETA antagonists BQ-123 and FR-139317 had no effect on plasma ET-1 concentrations. The increase in plasma ET-1 concentrations by Ro 46-2005 was most likely not due to de novo synthesis, since big ET-1 levels were not increased and peak levels were reached early after compound injection, but perhaps to displacement of ET-1 from the ETB receptors.