The effects of human adrenomedullin-(13-52)[hADM-(13-52)] were investigated in the rat pulmonary vascular bed and in isolated rings from the rat pulmonary artery (PA). Under conditions of controlled blood flow and constant left atrial pressure when tone was increased with U-46619, injections of hADM-(13-52) produced dose-related decreases in lobar arterial pressure. Pulmonary vasodilator responses in the intact rat and vasorelaxant responses to hADM-(13-52) in rat PA rings were inhibited by N(G)-nitro-L- arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) and L-N5-(1-iminoethyl)-ornithine hydrochloride (L-NIO). Vasorelaxant responses to hADM-(13-52) were also inhibited by methylene blue, endothelium removal, hADM-(26-52), and iberiotoxin, whereas meclofenamate, calcitonin gene-related peptide-(8- 37)[CGRP-(8-37)], glibenclamide, and apamin were without effect. Because vasorelaxant responses to NS-1619, a large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel agonist, were not altered by L-NAME and vasorelaxant responses to acetylcholine and CGRP were not altered by hADM-(26-52), the present data suggest that ADM-(13-52) acts on a receptor in the pulmonary vascular bed that is coupled to endothelial nitric oxide release. These data suggest that this nitric oxide release may lead to guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate- dependent K+ channel activation, which produces a pulmonary vasorelaxant response through hyperpolarization of vascular smooth muscle cells. The present data suggest that ADM-(13-52) modulates receptor-mediated, but not voltage-dependent, pulmonary vascular contraction by influencing Ca2+ influx. These results suggest that the ADM fragment, hADM-(13-52), acts as an endothelium-dependent vasodilator agent in the pulmonary vascular bed of the rat.