[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In view of the presence of distinct oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (VP) receptors in the male genital tract (porcine) we have reexamined the receptors for OT and AVP in the classical OT target tissue, female genital tract (rabbit). Neurohypophysial hormone receptors have been investigated in vagina, myometrium, and oviduct using quantitative ligand binding, adenylate cyclase, and contractility studies. Our results clearly indicate the presence of distinct OT and V1 VP receptors in the myometrium, while only the latter was detected in vagina and oviduct. In myometrium, estrogen treatment increases the density of OT and AVP receptors, while progesterone administration inhibits the estrogen effect. At the time of spontaneous delivery a dramatic (17-fold) increase was observed for the OT sites, while the AVP sites were unchanged. AVP receptors in vagina were sensitive to sex steroid administration and were reduced during pregnancy and delivery. Isometric contractility studies suggest that not just OT, but AVP can stimulate uterine strips, an effect that is partially reversible by the V1 antagonist d(CH2)5TyrMeAVP. In vagina only AVP is effective in inducing contractions at nanomolar concentrations. These results suggest a role for AVP as well as OT in regulation of the motility of female genital tract.