Previous studies from our laboratory have shown that chronic intracerebroventricular administration of captopril attenuates the development of hypertension in the spontaneously hypertensive rat of the Okamoto strain (SHR) without altering sodium and water balance, plasma renin, or sympathoadrenal activities. To determine whether the depressor effect of intracerebroventricular captopril was associated with an alteration in peripheral vascular reactivity and/or baroreflex sensitivity, vascular reactivity to phenylephrine and vasopressin was assessed in renal, mesenteric, and hindquarter vascular beds using pulsed Doppler flow probes. Captopril was infused into the jugular vein or lateral ventricle of male SHR and Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats for 4 weeks (osmotic mini pump, 1.25 μg/0.5 /μl/hr). Control SHR or WKY received intracerebroventricular infusions of vehicle. Four weeks of captopril decreased arterial pressure in both SHR and WKY. In response to phenylephrine and vasopressin, SHR and WKY treated with intracerebroventricular captopril showed significantly attenuated increases in arterial pressure and vascular resistance in comparison to either vehicletreated rats or rats receiving intravenous captopril. Reflex decreases in heart rate in response to phenylephrine were also greater in SHR and WKY treated with intracerebroventricular captopril than in the other rat groups. Neither vascular reactivity nor baroreflex sensitivity was altered in rats treated with intravenous captopril. We conclude that the depressor effect of captopril involves a blunting of vascular reactivity to vasoconstrictors and a potentiation of the baroreflex. © 1983 American Heart Association, Inc.