The effects of bolus intravenous injections of various serine proteases (thrombin, trypsin, plasmin, neutrophil elastase and chymotrypsin) on arterial blood pressure were evaluated in anesthetized, normotensive rats. The activity to intravenous trypsin was also studied in anesthetized, normotensive dogs. In the rat, both thrombin (0.33-10 nmol/kg) and trypsin (4.2-420 nmol/kg) produced pronounced vasodepressor responses. The activity on blood pressure was observed immediately following injection of either protease, and both the magnitude and duration of the responses were dose dependent. Plasmin (37-350 nmol/kg) and neutrophil elastase (91-910 nmol/kg) also induced dose-dependent hypotension but at much higher dose levels. In addition, the magnitude of the blood pressure responses after plasmin and neutrophil elastase was less than those produced by thrombin and trypsin. Chymotrypsin, on the other hand, had a more diverse blood pressure profile. The protease induced a modest decrease in pressure at doses of 40 and 120 nmol/kg, a pressor response after 400 and 1,200 nmol/kg and at the highest dose tested (4,000 nmol/kg) profound hypotension. In the dog, trypsin produced a dose-dependent vasodepressor response similar to that observed in the rat. The doses of proteases producing alterations of blood pressure in the rat correlated inversely with the ability of rat serum or plasma to completely inhibit those proteases. The pharmacology of the trypsin or thrombin blood pressure response suggests the requirement of specific active enzymes to mediate the vasodepression induced by both proteases.