To test whether renal V1-receptors selectively influence blood flow in the renal medulla, we compared the effects of infusion of [Phe2,Ile3,Orn8] vasopressin (3-30 ng/kg/min) by the intravenous, renal arterial, and renal medullary interstitial routes in anesthetized rabbits. Intravenous [Phe2,Ile3,Orn8]vasopressin (30 ng/kg/min) reduced renal medullary perfusion (MBF) by 36 ± 5% but did not significantly affect cortical perfusion (CBF). MBF was also reduced with the renal arterial (35 ± 5%) and renal medullary interstitial (40 ± 7%) routes but, in contrast to the intravenous infusion, CBF was also reduced, by 21 ± 3% and 15 ± 3%, respectively. Urine flow and sodium excretion were increased by [Phe2,Ile3,Orn8]vasopressin, and with direct intrarenal administration, this effect was similar for both the infused (left) and noninfused (right) kidneys. After a 20-min renal medullary interstitial infusion of [3H]norepinephrine, radiolabel concentration was approximately fivefold greater in the left medulla than in the left cortex. We conclude that [Phe2,Ile3,Orn8]vasopressin acts on V1-receptors to alter regional kidney blood flow and tubular salt and water handling. The V1-receptors involved are almost certainly within the kidney itself, but given the contrasting effects of the different infusion routes on MBF and CBF, we cannot exclude the possibility that some of the observed effects of [Phe2,Ile3,Orn8]vasopressin are mediated by activation of extra-renal V1-receptors.