Our aim was to investigate the effect of isradipine, a second-generation calcium channel blocker, on spontaneous and oxytocin- and carbachol-stimulated contractions of myometrium isolated from nonpregnant and pregnant rats. Amplitude, frequency, duration and integrated area of spontaneous and oxytocin- and carbachol-stimulated contractions of nonpregnant and pregnant rat myometrium were compared before and after the treatment with isradipine (10(-6) to 10(-4) mol/l). Isradipine inhibited contractions of myometrial strips isolated from nonpregnant and pregnant rats in a concentration-dependent manner, with a significant effect on the amplitude (10(-5) to 10-4 mol/l) and integrated area (3 x 10(-6) to 10(-4) mol/1) of spontaneous and oxytocin- and carbachol-stimulated contractions. Isradipine induced similar concentration-dependent effects on the frequency and duration of spontaneous and carbachol-stimulated contractions at higher concentrations (3 x 10(-5) to 10(-4) mol/1) but had no effect on frequency and duration of oxytocin-stimulated contractions. Isradipine appears to be an effective relaxant in rat myometrium. This effect of isradipine may become therapeutically advantageous in clinical application for preterm labor.