Angiotensin II (ANG II) increases arterial pressure in fetal sheep and may modulate cardiovascular adaptation before and after birth. The type 1 angiotensin II receptor (AT1R) predominates in adult vascular smooth muscle (VSM) and mediates vasoconstriction. In contrast, AT2R predominate in fetal tissues and are not known to mediate contraction. Although sheep are commonly used to study cardiovascular development, the ontogeny and distribution of VSM ATR subtypes is unknown. We examined ATR binding characteristics and subtype expression across the umbilicoplacental vasculature and in aorta, carotid, and mesenteric arteries from fetal (n = 44; 126-145 d gestation) and postnatal (n = 65; 1-120 d from birth) sheep using plasma membranes from tunica media and tissue autoradiography. Binding density (Bmax) was similar throughout the umbilicoplacental vasculature (p = 0.5), but only external umbilical arteries and veins and primary placental arteries expressed AT1R, whereas subsequent placental branches and fetal placentomes expressed only AT2R. Systemic VSM Bmax and binding affinity did not change significantly during development (p > 0.1). Fetal systemic VSM, however, expressed only AT2R, and binding was insensitive to GTPgammaS. Transition to AT1R in systemic VSM began 2 wk postnatal and was completed by 3 mo. Before birth, umbilical cord vessels are the primary site of AT1R expression in fetal sheep, and AT2R seem to predominate in systemic VSM until 2-4 wk postnatal.