There is little information outlining the role of Rho kinase, RhoA, and calcium sensitization in regulation of human uterine contractility during pregnancy. The aims of this study were to investigate the expression of RhoA, and the Rho kinases ROCK I and ROCK H in human pregnant myometrium, to evaluate the effects of Rho kinase inhibition on pregnant human myometrial contractility in vitro, and to compare these effects with those of the calcium channel blocker nifedipine. RT-PCR using primers for RhoA, ROCK I and ROCK II was performed on mRNA isolated from human pregnant myometrium. Isometric recording was performed in isolated myometrial strips obtained at Caesarean section. The effects of the Rho kinase inhibitor Y-27632 (1 nmol/l to 10 mmol/l), and nifedipine (1 nmol/l to 10 mmol/l), on oxytocin (0.5 mnol/l) induced contractions were measured and compared. Expression of RhoA, ROCK I and ROCK If mRNA was identified in human pregnant myometrium (n = 3). Y-27632 exerted a potent relaxant effect on myometrial contractility with a pD(2) value (+/- SEM) of 7.63 +/- 0.38 (n = 6). The maximum net relaxant effect (+/- SEM) was 72.3 +/- 6.1 % (n = 6). Corresponding values for nifedipine were 7.24 +/- 0.48 (n = 6; P = 0.469) and 93.40 +/- 3.1 % (n = 6; P = 0.028). Rho A/Rho kinase-mediated calcium sensitization may play role in the physiology of human parturition, and pharmacological inhibition of this pathway may therefore provide a novel approach to tocolysis for pre-term labour.