Considerable attention has been focused on the purine nucleoside, adenosine, in the control of renal blood flow, epithelial transport, and renin secretion; however, surprisingly little attention has been directed toward the renal effects of purine nucleotides such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Recent studies utilizing in vivo micropuncture and in vitro techniques have demonstrated that renal vascular, epithelial, and mesangial cells respond to extracellular ATP via mechanisms distinct from those elicited by adenosine. ATP vasoconstricts afferent but not efferent arterioles whereas adenosine vasoconstricts both vascular segments. Adenosine-mediated afferent arteriolar vasoconstriction is abolished by adenosine receptor antagonists, whereas the response to ATP is enhanced. ATP-mediated vasoconstriction reaches a maximum within seconds of exposure while the vasoconstriction induced by adenosine develops more slowly. L-type calcium channel antagonists such as diltiazem or felodipine prevent the sustained afferent vasoconstriction produced by ATP. Data from micropuncture experiments indicate that peritubular capillary infusion of ATP reduces glomerular pressure and results in marked attenuation of the tubuloglomerular feedback mechanism, which transmits signals from the macula densa to the afferent arteriole. These data support the existence of ATP-sensitive P2 purinoceptors in the preglomerular microvasculature that contribute to the control of renal vascular function via activation of calcium channels.