1. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the hypotensive effect of rat alpha-calcitonin gene-related peptide (alpha CGRP) in conscious rats is mediated by endothelium-derived nitric oxide (NO) or the opening of adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP)-sensitive potassium (KATP) channels. 2. Dose-mean arterial pressure (MAP)-response curves of alpha CGRP were examined in the presence of vehicle, phenylephrine, KATP channel antagonist glibenclamide or NO synthase inhibitors, NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) and NG-nitro-D-arginine methyl ester (D-NAME). Dose-MAP-response curves for sodium nitroprusside were also constructed in the presence and absence of L-NAME and D-NAME. 3. alpha CGRP and nitroprusside produced dose-dependent reductions in MAP which were potentiated by phenylephrine. Both L-NAME and D-NAME attenuated the depressor response to alpha CGRP but not nitroprusside. 4. Dose-MAP-response curves for pinacidil, a KATP-channel activator, were also examined in the presence of glibenclamide or vehicle. Glibenclamide attenuated pinacidil- but not alpha CGRP-induced reductions in MAP. 5. It is concluded that the hypotensive effects of alpha CGRP are partially mediated via endothelium-derived NO but not via the opening of KATP channels.