1. The effects of ATP, the stable ATP analogues alpha,beta-methylene ATP (alpha,beta-mATP), 2-methylthioATP (2meSATP) and adenosine tetraphosphate (ATP4), the pyrimidine nucleotide uridine 5'-triphosphate (UTP) and the alpha1-adrenoceptor agonist phenylephrine were examined on the isolated perfused uterine vasculature of dioestrous, oestradiol-treated, dexamethasone-treated and late-pregnant guinea-pigs. 2. The alpha1-adrenoceptor agonist phenylephrine elicited concentration-dependent vasoconstriction from preparations of perfused uterine vasculature from dioestrous, estradiol-treated and late-pregnant guinea-pigs. The mean maximal response to phenylephrine was unaffected by treatment of dioestrus guinea-pigs with oestradiol or dexamethasone, but was reduced in preparations from late-pregnant animals. 3. In perfused uterine arteries from dioestrous animals, the pyrimidine UTP, but not ATP4 and ATP, elicited vasoconstrictor responses. In preparations from oestradiol-treated animals, all three agonists elicited vasoconstriction, with a rank order of potency of ATP4 = UTP > ATP, whereas in preparations from late-pregnant animals this order of potency was ATP4 > UTP = ATP. In preparations from dexamethasone-treated animals, the vasoconstriction was similar to that seen in dioestrous animals. Vasoconstrictor responses to ATP4 were significantly greater in preparations of uterine vasculature from oestradiol-treated and pregnant animals than in preparations from dioestrous animals or dexamethasone-treated animals. 4. In preparations from dioestrous, oestradiol-treated, pregnant and dexamethasone-treated animals, alpha,beta-mATP was approximately two to three orders of magnitude more potent than 2meSATP. Compared with preparations from dioestrous animals, the maximal responses to alpha,beta-mATP were significantly greater in tissues from oestradiol-treated and pregnant animals. In preparations from dioestrous animals, the P2 purinoceptor antagonist suramin (100 micro mol/L) inhibited the responses to alpha,beta-mATP, but not those to ATP4. 5. The present study has demonstrated that pregnancy, but not the steroid treatment of dioestrous guinea-pigs with oestradiol or dexamethasone, reduces the sensitivity of the guinea-pig isolated perfused uterine vasculature to phenylephrine. In contrast, preparations from pregnant or oestradiol-treated guinea-pigs respond to ATP4 and to alpha,beta-mATP with significantly greater constrictions than those of dioestrous or dexamethasone-treated animals. These data indicate that the sensitivity of the uterine vasculature to adrenoceptor and purinoceptor agonists is differentially regulated by oestradiol and pregnancy, but not by the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone.