Renal vasoconstriction with resultant tissue hypoxia, especially in the renal medulla, has been suggested to play a role in contrast media (CM)-induced nephropathy. In this study we investigated the effects of injection of the non-ionic low-osmolar CM iopromide with and without pretreatment with the selective adenosine A1-receptor antagonist DPCPX. The effects were evaluated on regional renal blood flow, outer medullary oxygen tension (PO2) and urine output in normal anaesthetised rats. A laser-Doppler technique was used for recording haemodynamic changes while oxygen microelectrodes were used for oxygen measurements. The A1-receptor antagonist per se elevated glomerular filtration rate (+44%), cortical blood flow (+15%) and urine output (threefold) while reducing outer medullary PO2 (-24%). Administration of CM reduced outer medullary blood flow (OMBF; -26%) and PO2 (-80%) but did not affect cortical blood flow. Urine output increased 28-fold by CM while arterial blood pressure was reduced. The CM-mediated effect on haemodynamics, PO2, urine output and blood pressure was unaffected by the A1-receptor antagonist. Adenosine A1-receptors are not important mediators of the depression of outer medullary blood flow and PO2 caused by the CM iopromide in the normal rat; however, A1-receptors are tonically active to regulate renal haemodynamics, PO2 and urine production during normal physiological conditions.