We demonstrated previously that atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) enhances reflex bradycardia to intravenous serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)] (von Bezold-Jarisch reflex) in rats. To determine whether 1) ANP affects this cardiopulmonary vagal reflex in another species and 2) B-type (BNP) and C-type (CNP) natriuretic peptides share with ANP the ability to modulate this reflex, we used intravenous phenylbiguanide (PBG), a 5-HT(3) agonist, as the stimulus to evoke a von Bezold-Jarisch reflex (dose-related, reproducible bradycardia) in conscious adult sheep (n = 5). Three doses of PBG (13 +/- 3, 20 +/- 3, and 31 +/- 4 microg/kg) injected into the jugular vein caused reflex cardiac slowing of -7 +/- 1, -15 +/- 2, and -36 +/- 3 beats/min, respectively, under control conditions. These doses of PBG were repeated during infusions of ANP, BNP, or CNP (10 pmol. kg(-1). min(-1) iv), or vehicle (normal saline). Each of the natriuretic peptides significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced the sensitivity of bradycardic responses to PBG by 94 +/- 8% (ANP), 142 +/- 55% (BNP), and 61 +/- 16% (CNP). Thus not only did ANP sensitize cardiopulmonary chemoreceptor activation in a species with resting heart rate close to that in humans, but BNP and CNP also enhanced von Bezold-Jarisch reflex activity in conscious sheep.