Smooth muscle of strips of rabbit aorta, placed in a state of active tonic contraction by addition of a stimulating drug, relaxes during exposure to light. The relaxation is reversible. The extent of relaxation produced by a standard exposure depends on the preexposure level of active contraction but not on the nature of the stimulating drug used to produce contraction. With strips brought to an intermediate level of contraction, the degree of relaxation (steady state levels) is a rectangular hyperbolic function of radiation intensity. The kinetics of the relaxation process during irradiation and the recovery process following irradiation are consistent with the hypothesis that the primary photoactivated material initiates a reaction or reactions leading to a product which inhibits some process involved in the production of active contraction. The photorelaxation does not require the presence of oxygen. It is potentiated by reducing the temperature of the aortic strip. The action spectrum of the photorelaxation shows relatively low effectiveness at wavelengths above 450 mµ. The effectiveness increases markedly and progressively as the wavelength is lowered below 450 mµ, reaching a peak at 310 mµ. A deep trough occurs at 280 mµ. However, both peak and trough probably result from internal filtering due to absorption by proteins in the aortic strip. It is surmised that if a correction could be made for this internal filtering, the action spectrum would rise continuously down to wavelengths at least as low as 250 mµ.

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