We investigated bradykinin-induced changes in the turnover of arachidonate in renal lipids of the perfused rabbit kidney. Upon hormone stimulation, this cellular system undergoes only transient dynamic changes in arachidonic acid metabolism; no loss of bradykinin effect on arachidonate release and prostaglandin generation is shown upon repeated hormone administrations durilng 8-9 hr of perfusion. Ureter-obstructed rabbit kidneys were perfused for 5-6 hr and then saline or bradykinin in saline was administered, followed after 10sec by pulse labelling with [14C]arachidonate. The pattern of distribution of [14C]arachidonate in lipid fractions of the cortex showed that bradykinin caused a 2 to 2.5-fold increase in the relative incorporation of arachidonic acid into phosphatidylinositol (PI), phosphatidic acid (PA). diglyceride (DG) and triglyceride (TG) fractions and a concomitant decrease in its incorporation into phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). In contrast. in the medulla hormone administration caused a marked increase of arachidonate incorporation into PI and PC, and a decrease in incorporation into PE, PA, DG and TG. This differential arachidonate labelling of cortical vs medullary lipids following bradykinin stimulation suggests that the hormone activates different lipolytic processes in cortex and medulla, and promotes hydrolysis of arachidonic acid from different phospholipid pools.