Abstract Propranolol caused a contractile response in the isolated rabbit ear artery (EA). The concentration of propranolol causing a threshold contraction was 1.76 × 10 −6M while that causing a maximal contraction of 2.2 ± 0.18 g was 3 × 10 −5M. Higher concentrations caused tissue relaxation. Phentolamine, 10 −7 and 10 −6M reduced the propranolol-induced contractions by 50% and 90%, respectively while prazosin, 10 −8, 10 −7 and 10 −6M caused reductions of 54, 74 and 88%, respectively. Reserpinization of the rabbit with 5 mg/kg 24 hours before use eliminated the EA contractile response to tyramine but had no effect on that to propranolol. Desmethylimipramine plus deoxycorticosterone acetate enhanced the submaximal contraction of the EA to propranolol. In vitro denervation with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) decreased the response of the EA to tyramine and propranolol by 96% and 85% respectively but increased that to norepinephrine (NE) by 11%. Rabbit thoracic aorta (TA) did not respond to propranolol. In EA contracted with vasopressin o or 30 mM potassium, propranolol 10 −4 and 3 × 10 −4M caused a 20% and 100% relaxation, respectively. It is concluded that propranolol elicits a contractile response in the EA, at least in part, by direct activation of postsynaptic alpha adrenoceptors.