There has been an explosive growth of interest in the multiple interacting paracrine systems that influence renal microvascular function. This review first discusses the membrane activation mechanisms for renal vascular control. Evidence is provided that there are differential activating mechanisms regulating pre- and postglomerular arteriolar vascular smooth muscle cells. The next section deals with the critical role of the endothelium in the control of renal vascular function and covers the recent findings related to the role of nitric oxide and other endothelial-derived factors. This section is followed by an analysis of the roles of vasoactive paracrine systems that have their origin from adjoining tubular structures. The interplay of signals between the epithelial cells and the vascular network to provide feedback regulation of renal hemodynamics is developed. Because of their well-recognized contributions to the regulation of renal microvascular function, three major paracrine systems are discussed in separate sections. Recent findings related to the role of intrarenally formed angiotensin II and the prominence of the AT1 receptors are described. The possible contribution of purinergic compounds is then discussed. Recognition of the emerging role of extracellular ATP operating via P2 receptors as well as the more recognized functions of the P1 receptors provides fertile ground for further studies. In the next section, the family of vasoactive arachidonic acid metabolites is described. Possibilities for a myriad of interacting functions operating both directly on vascular smooth muscle cells and indirectly via influences on endothelial and epithelial cells are discussed. Particular attention is given to the more recent developments related to hemodynamic actions of the cytochrome P-450 metabolites. The final section discusses unique mechanisms that may be responsible for differential regulation ot medullary blood flow by locally formed paracrine agents. Several sections provide perspectives on the complex interactions among the multiple mechanisms responsible for paracrine regulation of the renal microcirculation. This plurality of regulatory interactions highlights the need for experimental strategies that include integrative approaches that allow manifestation of indirect as well as direct influences of these paracrine systems on renal microvascular function.