This investigation determined the chronotropic effects of norepinephrine and acetylcholine (ACh) administered selectively into the canine sinus node artery after cardiac denervation. In 42 dogs the cervical vagi were isolated, the heart was exposed, and vagal stimulations were performed before and after sham procedure or extrinsic cardiac parasympathectomy. Four additional dogs underwent bilateral stellectomy. The dogs were reanesthetized 4-23 days later, and blood pressure, heart rate, ECG, and local cardiac electrograms were recorded. The vagi were again stimulated and the effectiveness of the parasympathectomy was verified in 11 of the dogs. On selective perfusion of the sinus node with 0.001- to 1-μg doses of ACh, the sinus bradycardias of the parasympathectomized and the sham-operated dogs were not significantly different. The responses to norepinephrine (0.01 and 0.1 μg/ml) administered via the same route in the stellectomized dogs were significantly greater than those in the sham-operated dogs, thus verifying this technique for the assessment of sinus mode sensitivity to neurotransmitters. We conclude that extrinsic denervation of the canine sinus node leads to development of a differential response between adrenergic and cholinergic neurotransmitters. These differential sensitivities may be important when considering the pharmacological responses and electrical stability of the denervated and/or transplanted heart.