We tested the hypothesis that arterial reactivity to noradrenaline is augmented in congestive heart failure (CHF), which could contribute to the deleterious changes in peripheral vascular resistance and compliance in this condition. From male Wistar rats with post-infarction CHF and sham-operated rats, skeletal muscle conductance and resistance arteries (mean lumen diameters: 514 and 186 μm) were isolated and mounted on wire myographs, and wall tension was recorded in response to cumulative application of acetylcholine and noradrenaline to the vessel segments. In a subset of experiments, wall tension and cytosolic free calcium ion concentration [Ca2+]i were recorded simultaneously during noradrenaline application, using wire myography and the FURA-2 technique. No significant differences were found in the arterial baseline levels of [Ca2+]i or tension between CHF and sham rats. In the resistance arteries of CHF rats, the noradrenaline-induced increases in [Ca2+]i were significantly enhanced (P = 0.003). Despite the augmented [Ca2+]i levels, the tension responses to noradrenaline were unaltered in these arteries. In the conductance arteries, there were no significant differences in noradrenaline-induced [Ca2+]i or tension responses between CHF and control rats. CHF did not alter vascular morphology or change vascular relaxations to acetylcholine in either type of artery. In conclusion, these results do not support the contention that arterial reactivity to noradrenaline is augmented in the skeletal muscle vascular bed in CHF. On the contrary, the unchanged contractile responsiveness in the resistance arteries despite the enhanced levels of [Ca2+]i during noradrenaline application suggests that the contractile function of these vessels is compromised in CHF. Neither vascular remodeling, endothelial dysfunction nor changes in baseline vascular tone could be demonstrated in the skeletal muscle vascular bed of this animal model of heart failure.