The effect of acute treatment with clozapine, risperidone and haloperidol on cardiovascular response to open field novelty stress was investigated in rats using radio-telemetry and video-tracking analysis. Pretreatment with clozapine dose-dependently inhibited the pressor response, tachycardia and increase in dP/dt and caused a marked reduction of exploratory locomotor activity. Similar effects were observed after risperidone treatment. Haloperidol treatment markedly reduced locomotor activity but its cardiovascular effects were limited to a more rapid return of heart rate towards baseline levels. These data suggest that particularly the atypical antipsychotic drugs, clozapine and risperidone, but not the typical antipsychotic, haloperidol, reduce cardiovascular stress responses, an effect that could reflect their anxiolytic action. Such anxiolytic effects could contribute to the beneficial clinical effects of atypical antipsychotic drugs in patients with schizophrenia.