Stress is one of the factors provoking cardiovascular complications. The purpose of the study was to explore the role of vasopressin (VP) in central control of arterial blood pressure and heart rate under resting conditions and during stimulation by an alarming stress (air jet stress) in myocardial infarct-induced cardiac failure. Six groups of male Sprague Dawley (SD) rats were subjected either to sham surgery (sham rats) or to ligation of a left coronary artery (infarcted rats). After 5 weeks both infarcted and sham rats were subjected either to intracerebroventricular infusion of artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF) (sham aCSF and infarcted aCSF), [Arg8]-VP (sham VP and infarcted VP) or VP V1a receptor antagonist (d(CH2)5[Tyr(Me)2Ala-]VP, sham V1ANT and infarcted V1ANT). Air jet stress elicited significantly greater increases in mean arterial blood pressure (MABP) and heart rate in the infarcted aCSF than in the sham aCSF rats. Intracerebroventricular infusion of V1ANT significantly reduced resting MABP and MABP and heart rate increases in response to stress in the infarcted but not in the sham rats. Intracerebroventricular infusion of VP elicited a significant increase in resting MABP in the infarcted VP but not in the sham VP rats. The results provide evidence for enhanced engagement of the brain V1 VP receptors in regulation of resting MABP and in generation of exaggerated cardiovascular responses to air jet stress during the post-infarct state.