Using purified rat ventricular myocytes and membranes prepared from them, we have previously found that alpha 1-adrenergic stimulation causes decreased cyclic AMP accumulation and decreased activation of cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase. We have now analyzed the mechanism by which alpha 1 stimulation is linked to cyclic AMP metabolism. In an adenylate cyclase assay in which carbachol inhibits the stimulatory effect of norepinephrine, the addition of prazosin (alpha 1-antagonist) has no effect on the response to norepinephrine. In membranes prepared from myocytes treated with pertussis toxin, norepinephrine competes for alpha 1-receptors (assessed by [3H]prazosin binding) with two components, binding to the high affinity component being sensitive to exogenous GTP, exactly as in membranes prepared from control myocytes. In intact cells labeled with [3H]adenine in which carbachol antagonizes the norepinephrine response, prazosin enhances accumulation of [3H]cyclic AMP due to norepinephrine. Treatment of cells with pertussis toxin eliminates inhibition by carbachol but does not alter prazosin's capacity to enhance the norepinephrine response. Addition of phosphodiesterase inhibitors eliminates this effect of alpha 1 blockade. In [3H]adenine-labeled cells loaded with [3H]cyclic AMP by prior treatment with isoproterenol, alpha 1-adrenergic stimulation enhances disappearance of [3H]cyclic AMP. Measurements of cellular cyclic AMP give results similar to those obtained with the adenine labeling technic. We conclude that occupation of the myocyte alpha 1-receptor results in stimulation of cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase activity.