The positive chronotropic effect of bradykinin was investigated in isolated spontaneously beating atria of the rat. Cumulative additions of bradykinin (0.3-100 nM) caused a concentration-dependent increase in the beating rate of the atria by maximally 35+/-4 beats/min, approximately 25% of the 1 microM isoprenaline-induced maximal responses. In contrast, the active metabolite of bradykinin and selective bradykinin B1-receptor agonist, Des-Arg9-bradykinin, did not influence the spontaneous frequency of beating. Propranolol (1 microM) combined with prazosin (1 microM) did not affect the positive chronotropic effect of bradykinin. A selective bradykinin B2-receptor antagonist, Hoe 140, concentration-dependently shifted the response curves for bradykinin to the right, whereas the bradykinin B1-receptor antagonist, Lys-[Leu8]Des-Arg9-bradykinin had no effect. The tachycardic responses to bradykinin were potentiated by ramipril, an angiotensin-converting enzyme/kininase II inhibitor, but not affected by Nomega-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester hydrochloride, a nitric oxide synthesis inhibitor. Indomethacin and meclofenamate, two cyclooxygenase inhibitors, abolished the bradykinin-induced chronotropic effect. These results indicate that exogenous bradykinin induces a positive chronotropic effect that occurs independent of adrenoceptors. The bradykinin-induced chronotropic effect is mediated by bradykinin B2 receptors, whereas B1 receptors do not play a role in mediating this effect. Prostaglandins but not nitric oxide appear to be involved in bradykinin-induced positive chronotropic effect.