Renal hemodynamic changes could play a key role in radiocontrast media-induced nephropathy (RCIN), although the pathophysiological mechanisms are unclear. We investigated the role of adenosine in RCIN caused by sodium diatrizoate (Urografin, 3 ml/kg) in nitro-L-Arg methyl ester (L-NAME)-hypertensive rats in different hydration states [eight weeks of L-NAME (50 mg/liter) in drinking water; high or low sodium intake for the last two weeks]. In clearance experiments under thiobutabarbital anesthesia in these previously mentioned animals, glomerular filtration rate (GFR), renal blood flow (RBF), and mean arterial pressure (MAP) were measured in the presence or absence of the adenosine A1-receptor antagonist 8-cyclopropyl-1,3-dipropylxanthine (DPCPX, 100 microg/kg bolus plus 10 microg/kg/hr). DPCPX or pretreatment did not change control hemodynamics. Contrast medium caused GFR and RBF to fall significantly in volume-depleted rats (from 0.29 +/- 0.02 to 0.21 +/- 0.02 ml/min/100 g and 5.4 +/- 0.3 to 4.0 +/- 0.4 ml/min, respectively) without change in MAP. In volume-expanded rats, changes were not significant (0.25 +/- 0.01 to 0.24 +/- 0.02 ml/min/100 g and 5.6 +/- 0.3 to 5.3 +/- 0.4 ml/min, respectively). In the volume-depleted rats, changes were prevented by DPCPX (0.27 +/- 0.02 to 0.24 +/- 0.02 ml/min/100 g and 4.8 +/- 0.1 to 5.0 +/- 0.1 ml/min, respectively). The acute hemodynamic effects elicited by contrast medium in L-NAME hypertensive rats thus can be prevented by volume expansion. Adenosine, via A1-receptors, contributes to the adverse effects of contrast media.