The multiple roles of extracellular ATP and its metabolite adenosine include broad areas, such as regulating vascular tone and inducing inflammation. This review will discuss purinoceptor-induced effects on renal vascular resistance, highlighting the key experiments providing a significant contribution to our current understanding of autoregulatory mechanisms. Emphasis will be placed on the purinoceptor subtypes involved in autoregulatory control by ATP and adenosine. Additionally, the role of purinoceptors in hypertension-associated impairment of autoregulatory efficiency will be discussed. Copyright © 2007 by the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine.