This study investigated the impact of intrarenal angiotensin 1-7 (Ang [1-7]) infusion on renal excretory function in a rat model of hypertension. Eleven-week-old spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs, n = 7) and Han Wistar controls (NCR, n = 7) were anaesthetised with sodium pentobarbital (60 mg/kg i.p.) and prepared for the measurement of mean arterial pressure (MAP) and left renal function during renal interstitial infusion of Ang (1-7) (50 ng/min). The kidneys were harvested, the renal cortex and medulla separated, prepared for measurement of Ang II and Ang (1-7) and Western blot determination of AT1 and Mas receptor protein expression. MAP, glomerular filtration rate (GFR), urine flow (UF) and absolute sodium excretion (UNaV) were 109 +/- 16 mmHg, 4.4 +/- 1.0 mL/min/kg, 102 +/- 16 mu L/min/kg and 16 +/- 3 mu mol/min/kg, respectively in the NCR and 172 +/- 24 mmHg, 3.4 +/- 0.7 mL/min/kg, 58 +/- 30 mu L/min/kg and 8.6 +/- 4.8 mu mol/min/kg respectively in the SHR. Ang (1-7) increased UF (31%), UNaV (50%) and fractional sodium excretion (FENa+) (22%) in the NCR group (all p < 0.05) but had no effect on GFR in either group. The magnitudes of the Ang (1-7)-induced increases in UF and UNaV were significantly blunted in the SHR group (model x drug p < 0.05). The renal cortical AT1: Mas receptor expression ratio was significantly higher in the SHR group (p < 0.05) but renal Ang II and Ang (1-7) levels were not statistically different between groups. The Ang (1-7)-induced increases in sodium and water excretion were impaired in the SHR group in the context of an unstimulated RAS. The decrease in responsiveness of the SHR kidney to Ang (1-7) appears to be associated with higher levels of AT1 receptor expression in the renal cortex.