When injected into specific rat brain regions, the neurotransmitter candidate L-proline produces various cardiovascular changes through ionotropic excitatory amino acid receptors. The present study used an immunohistochemical double-labeling approach to determine whether intracisternally injected L-proline in freely moving rats, which increases blood pressure, activates hypothalamic vasopressin-expressing neurons and ventral medullary tyrosine-hydroxylase- (TH-) containing neurons. Following injection of L-proline, the number of activated hypothalamic neurons that coexpressed vasopressin and c-Fos was much greater in the supraoptic nucleus (SON) than in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of rats with increased blood pressure. The number of activated TH-containing neurons was significantly greater following L-proline treatment than following control injections of artificial cerebrospinal fluid (ACSF). These results clearly demonstrate that intracisternally injected L-proline activates hypothalamic supraoptic, but not paraventricular, vasopressin-expressing neurons and medullary TH-containing (A1/C1) neurons in freely moving rats.