The vascular effects of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors are mediated by the inhibition of the dual action of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE): production of angiotensin II and degradation of bradykinin. The deleterious effect of converting enzyme inhibitors (CEI) on neonatal renal function have been ascribed to the elevated activity of the renin-angiotensin system. In order to clarify the role of bradykinin in the CEI-induced renal dysfunction of the newborn, the effect of perindoprilat was investigated in anesthetized newborn rabbits with intact or inhibited bradykinin B2 receptors. Inulin and PAH clearances were used as indices of GFR and renal plasma flow, respectively. Perindoprilat (20 microg/kg i.v.) caused marked systemic and renal vasodilation, reflected by a fall in blood pressure and renal vascular resistance. GFR decreased, while urine flow rate did not change. Prior inhibition of the B2 receptors by Hoe 140 (300 microg/kg s.c.) did not prevent any of the hemodynamic changes caused by perindoprilat, indicating that bradykinin accumulation does not contribute to the CEI-induced neonatal renal effects. A control group receiving only Hoe 140 revealed that BK maintains postglomerular vasodilation via B2 receptors in basal conditions. Thus, the absence of functional B2 receptors in the newborn was not responsible for the failure of Hoe 140 to prevent the perindoprilat-induced changes. Species- and/or age-related differences in the kinin-metabolism could explain these results, suggesting that in the newborn rabbit other kininases than ACE are mainly responsible for the degradation of bradykinin.