With a computerized analysis system, blood pressure was recorded continuously in conscious unrestrained spontaneously hypertensive rats. The effects of different adenosine receptor agonists and ATP-sensitive potassium channel opener and blocker on blood pressure variability in spontaneously hypertensive rats were studied. It was found that adenosine, 5′-N-cyclopropyl-carboxamidoadenosine (CPCA, a selective adenosine A2-receptor agonist) and pinacidil (a nonselective ATP-sensitive potassium channel opener) decreased blood pressure variability when one of them was used alone, whereas N6 -cyclopentyladenosine (CPA, a selective adenosine A1-receptor agonist) had no significant effects on blood pressure variability. When pretreated with glibenclamide (a nonselective ATP-sensitive potassium channel blocker), the inhibitory effects of adenosine and CPCA on blood pressure variability were significantly prevented. By itself, however, glibenclamide had no influence on blood pressure variability. These results suggest that the effect of adenosine on blood pressure variability in spontaneously hypertensive rats is due to activation of ATP-sensitive potassium channels mediated by adenosine A2-receptor.