Clonidine (C) and guanabenz (G) are both alpha 2-agonists. Whereas C has been reported to cause anti-natriuresis proportional to renal vasoconstriction with acute infusion, G increases sodium and water excretion with little change in renal blood flow (RBF). C-mediated vasoconstriction may involve alpha 1-receptors. RBF in anaesthetized dogs was measured electromagnetically. Boluses of phenylephrine (P), C and G were injected into the renal artery via a perfusion cannula. Responses were expressed as delta RBF. Then prazosin or yohimbine were administered intra-arterially and dose-response curves repeated. The shift in dose ratio (delta ED50 after prazosin/yohimbine) for P was 52.9, for C was 4.7 and for G was 0.62. G was a 10-fold weaker vasoconstrictor than C, but G was still effective when alpha 1-receptors were blocked. Ten-fold differences were found between P, C and G for dependence upon alpha 1-adrenoceptors. Denervation did not significantly shift the curves. Thus, postsynaptic alpha 2-receptors can contribute to renal vasoconstriction, but the receptors are either less numerous or less efficiently coupled to contractile elements than in other beds. Verapamil markedly attenuated responses to C and G. Since tubular alpha 1-receptors have also been implicated in sodium transport, C may be more prone than G to cause anti-natriuresis both through stimulated tubular reabsorption and renal vasoconstriction.