The effects of continuous intravenous infusion of naloxone or vehicle on the blood pressure and vasopressin responses to step-wise hemorrhage were examined in conscious, age-matched spontaneously hypertensive (SHR) and normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY). Step-wise hemorrhage progressively lowered blood pressure and increased plasma vasopressin levels in both SHR and WKY. The WKY were relatively resistant to the hypotensive effect of hemorrhage. No significant differences were noted in blood pressure responses between naloxone-treated and vehicle-treated SHR while naloxone treatment attenuated hypotension only slightly in WKY. Plasma vasopressin levels were also elevated by naloxone treatment in SHR following a nonhypotensive hemorrhage equivalent to 0.5% of body weight. However, no differences were observed between plasma vasopressin levels in naloxone-treated and vehicle-treated SHR at greater degrees of hemorrhage. In addition, plasma vasopressin levels were similar at all times in hemorrhaged WKY, regardless of treatment. Plasma vasopressin levels were increased by naloxone in both time-control SHR and WKY. The data demonstrate that naloxone-sensitive systems exert only minimal effects on the immediate cardiovascular responses to hypovolemia in normotensive rats and no measurable effects in SHR. It does appear that naloxone-sensitive mechanisms contribute a small, but significant, tonic inhibitory influence over vasopressin secretion in both normotensive and hypertensive rats under basal conditions and in SHR in response to a small reduction in blood volume.