Phoneutria nigriventer venom was fractionated by gel filtration followed by ion-exchange chromatography from which 16 fractions (I-XVI) were obtained and assayed in rabbit skin in order to identify those responsible for the increased vascular permeability observed with the whole venom. The fractions, and control mediators (tissue kallikrein, bradykinin and histamine) were intradermally injected in male New Zealand white rabbits. Local oedema formation was measured as the local accumulation of i.v. injected 125I-human serum albumin into skin sites. Fraction XIII was the only fraction assayed which significantly induced oedema formation. Fraction XIII-induced oedema was greatly reduced by either the protease inhibitor aprotinin or the bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist D-Arg,[Hyp3,Thi5,8D-Phe7]-Bk, whereas the plasma kallikrein inhibitor soybean trypsin inhibitor failed to significantly affect this oedematogenic response. The kininase II inhibitor captopril markedly potentiated fraction XIII-induced oedema. Our results indicate that the increased vascular permeability induced by fraction XIII is due to local generation of kinins in response to tissue (but not plasma) kallikrein-kinin system activation.