I1-imidazoline receptor activation by moxonidine has potent antigastric secretory and gastroprotective effects in rats. We therefore tested whether an imidazoline receptor antagonist, efaroxan, would influence gastric secretion and block the antisecretory and antiulcer effects of moxonidine. When given intracerebroventricularly (i.c.v.), moxonidine inhibited basal acid output in conscious rats to a maximum of 38%. Moxonidine given i.p. also significantly increased gastric adherent mucus levels in rats subjected to cold-restraint stress. Efaroxan alone given i.c.v., did not influence gastric secretion nor did it affect moxonidine's ability to decrease gastric secretion. Similarly, peripherally administered efaroxan did not block the antisecretory effect of moxonidine given i.c.v. However, when both compounds were given i.p., efaroxan pretreatment at all but the lowest doses significantly blocked the antigastric secretory effect of moxonidine. Efaroxan alone (i.p.) did not influence stress-induced gastric mucosal injury or adherent mucus levels. However, pretreatment of rats with efaroxan i.p. significantly blocked the mucus-preserving effect of i.p. moxonidine. These results demonstrate that central (i.c.v.) or peripheral (i.p.) administration of the I1-imidazoline receptor agonist moxonidine is associated with gastroprotection. The ability of i.p. efaroxan to block the effects of i.p. moxonidine but not i.c.v. moxonidine indicates that imidazoline receptors located centrally and peripherally may represent two unique sites associated with gastroprotection.