To test whether renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA) can differentially regulate blood flow in the renal medulla (MBF) and cortex (CBF) of pentobarbital sodium-anesthetized rabbits, we electrically stimulated the renal nerves while recording total renal blood flow (RBF), CBF, and MBF. Three stimulation sequences were applied 1) varying amplitude (0.5-8 V), 2) varying frequency (0.5-8 Hz), and 3) a modulated sinusoidal pattern of varying frequency (0. 04-0.72 Hz). Increasing amplitude or frequency of stimulation progressively decreased all flow variables. RBF and CBF responded similarly, but MBF responded less. For example, 0.5-V stimulation decreased CBF by 20 +/- 9%, but MBF fell by only 4 +/- 6%. The amplitude of oscillations in all flow variables was progressively reduced as the frequency of sinusoidal stimulation was increased. An increased amplitude of oscillation was observed at 0.12 and 0.32 Hz in MBF and to a lesser extent RBF, but not CBF. MBF therefore appears to be less sensitive than CBF to the magnitude of RSNA, but it is more able to respond to these higher frequencies of neural stimulation.