Urocortin, a newly isolated 40-amino-acid mammalian peptide homologous to corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), activates both CRH type 1 and 2 receptors, but may be an endogenous ligand for CRH receptor type 2. Urocortin given systemically inhibited heat-induced paw edema in the rat, and was therefore ascribed anti-inflammatory properties. We examined the effects of urocortin in the carrageenin-induced subcutaneous inflammation model. Rats were treated with urocortin 200 (n = 6) or 20 nmol/kg (n = 6); inflammatory exudates were reduced by approximately 30% compared to controls (n = 7) at both doses. However, since subcutaneous urocortin has been shown to reduce arterial blood pressure, we tested the hypothesis that its antiedema and antiextravasatory effects were secondary to arterial hypotension. Therefore, we examined the parallel effects of urocortin- and hydralazine-induced hypotension on acute inflammation induced by carrageenin in the rat. Rats were treated with subcutaneous carrageenin and control injections (n = 8), carrageenin and urocortin (20 nmol/kg, n = 9), or carrageenin and intraperitoneal hydralazine (10 mg/kg, n = 8). Mean arterial blood pressure was measured hourly for 7 h in 12 animals, and after 2 h, the nadir of treatment, in a further 13 animals. Rats were then sacrificed, and the inflammatory exudate volume and leukocyte count were measured. Mean exudate volumes were reduced from 4.8 ± 0.5 ml (controls) to 2.4 ± 0.3 ml (p = 0.004) and 2.9 ± 0.6 ml (p = 0.007) in urocortin- and hydralazine-treated animals, respectively. Urocortin and hydralazine both produced a significant fall in blood pressure compared to controls, with mean arterial pressure 2 h after carrageenin injection falling to 51.0 ± 4.1 (p < 0.001) and 34.6 ± 4.6 (p < 0.001) vs. 92.9 ± 3.7 mm Hg in controls, respectively. A significant positive correlation was noted between blood pressure and inflammatory exudate volume (r = 0.52, p = 0.007). As both hydralazine and urocortin lowered blood pressure and inflammatory exudate volume, we suggest that the anti-inflammatory effects of urocortin and related neuropeptides may be nonspecific, acting through hypotension rather than through direct anti-inflammatory mechanisms. The use of inflammatory models which rely on extravasation may be inappropriate for the study of substances that produce hypotension.