The rat urinary bladder is one of the few in vivo preparations in which kinin B1 receptor-mediated contractile responses have been described, but the nature (local or reflex) of these responses has not been characterized. We have investigated the motor effects of i.v. or topical (onto the bladder serosa) administration of the selective kinin B1 receptor agonist [des-Arg9]-bradykinin ([des-Arg9]-BK) in the normal or inflamed (cyclophosphamide-induced) urinary bladder in urethane-anaesthetized rats. In both normal and inflamed bladders [des-Arg9]-BK produced a tonic contraction of low amplitude (< 15 mmHg) with phasic contractions of high amplitude (> or = 15 mmHg) superimposed (micturition reflex contractions). In inflamed bladders, the response to [des-Arg9]-BK was more prominent than in controls. Similar observations were made after the topical administration of [des-Arg9]-BK. In order to evaluate any time-dependency in the expression of B1 receptor-mediated bladder responses, [des-Arg9]-BK was administered in separate groups of control animals at 30 and 240 min after the completion of surgical procedures required for set-up of the preparation: no bladder contraction was detected at 30 min whereas both local and reflex contractions could be elicited by [des-Arg9]-BK at 240 min after the set up. In ganglionectomized rats, the response to [des-Arg9]-BK or the selective tachykinin NK2 receptor agonist [betaAla8]NKA(4-10) was evaluated at 30 and 240 min after the set up in inflamed or in control animals. The response to [des-Arg9]-BK was greater after inflammation although a time-dependent increase was evident in both groups; in contrast, the response to [betaAla8]NKA(4-10) was similar in both groups and remained constant over the observation period. After induction of inflammation, the tonic contraction induced by [des-Arg9]-BK in ganglionectomized rats was dose-dependently reduced by the kinin B1 receptor antagonist [desArg10]Hoe 140. The contractile response (number of micturition reflex contractions) induced by [des-Arg9]-BK in normal rats with intact pelvic nerves at 240 min from the set up was not changed after the administration of the selective B2 receptor antagonist Hoe 140. These results indicate that stimulation of bladder kinin B1 receptors evokes a local, tonic-type contraction with reflex contractions superimposed in both normal and inflamed bladders, but in the latter situation the motor responses are magnified.