Central dopaminergic systems have been implicated in the regulation of blood pressure. We examined the effect on blood pressure of electrical or chemical stimulation of the rat brain ventral tegmental area (VTA) which is the region of origin of the A10 dopaminergic system. Electrical stimulation in urethane-anaesthetised rats (10-120 Hz, 80 microA) produced frequency-dependent increases in blood pressure (max 30-35 mmHg). These pressor responses could be significantly attenuated by pretreatment with the dopamine D2 receptor antagonist haloperidol, but not the D1 receptor antagonist SCH 23390. Chemical stimulation of the VTA, by microinjection of 10 nmol of the substance P analogue DiMe-C7, produced a sustained increase in blood pressure (max 10-15 mmHg), which could be completely prevented by pretreatment with haloperidol. These results suggest that stimulation of dopaminergic neurons in the VTA induces pressor responses and that projections from midbrain dopaminergic neurons, acting on dopamine D2 receptors, play a role in the regulation of blood pressure.