The cardiac limb of the baroreflex loop was studied in the saltwater crocodile Crocodylus porosus. The classical pharmacological methodology using phenylephrine and sodium nitroprusside was used to trigger blood pressure changes, and the resulting alterations in heart rate were analysed quantitatively using a logistic function. Interindividual differences in resting heart rates and blood pressures were observed, but all seven animals displayed clear baroreflex responses. Atropine and sotalol greatly attenuated the response. A maximal baroreflex gain of 7.2 beats min-1 kPa-1 was found at a mean aortic pressure of 6.1 kPa, indicating the active role of the baroreflex in a wide pressure range encompassing hypotensive and hypertensive states. At the lowest mean aortic pressures (5.0 kPa), the synergistic role of the pulmonary-to-systemic shunt in buffering the blood pressure drop also contributes to blood pressure regulation. Pulse pressure showed a better correlation with heart rate and also a higher gain than mean aortic, systolic or diastolic pressures, and this is taken as an indicator of the existence of a differential control element working simultaneously with a linear proportional element.

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