A newly synthesized ET(A)-selective antagonist, BQ-123, was examined with respect to its anti-endothelin(ET) action in vitro and in vivo and its effect on blood pressure in Wistar Kyoto rats (WKY), spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRSP). In isolated porcine coronary arteries, BQ-123 (0.07 microM to 6.0 microM) shifted the concentration-response curve for ET-1 to the right without affecting the maximal response of ET-1, its pA2 value being 7.35. Intravenous infusion of BQ-123 at a rate of 1.2 and 30 mg/kg/hr produced a significant decrease in blood pressure in 20- to 29-week-old SHRSP, but did not alter blood pressure in 13- to 16-week-old WKY or in 18- to 19-week-old and 40-week-old SHR. The hypotensive effect of BQ-123 depended on the pretreatment blood pressure level. These results suggest that ET-1 is involved in part in the maintenance of high blood pressure in malignant hypertension, as exemplified by SHRSP.