1. Twelve conscious, chronically instrumented dogs were subjected to rapid loading with sodium chloride solution (150 mmol/l; saline) before and 1 day after bilateral nephrectomy (six dogs) or uretero-caval anastomosis (six dogs). Measurements were performed up to 3 h after the fluid load and included cardiac output with an electromagnetic flowmeter, mean arterial pressure and right atrial pressure with chronically implanted catheters, interstitial fluid pressure with a plastic capsule, heart rate, extracellular fluid volume, erythrocyte volume, plasma volume, plasma protein concentration and other variables.
2. The increase in cardiac output in response to saline load was significantly prolonged in the anephric dogs compared with those with uretero-caval anastomosis; mean arterial pressure, right atrial pressure and heart-rate changes were similar in both groups.
3. Plasma volume appeared to increase more in the anephric dogs than in those with uretero-caval anastomosis during the first hour after the infusion, although conflicting results were obtained with different estimates of plasma volume changes. Interstitial fluid pressure increased significantly less in the anephric dogs in the early stages of the fluid load.
4. Effective vascular compliance (the ratio of the change in blood volume to the change in right atrial pressure) appeared increased in the anephric dogs. On the other hand, the change in cardiac output for a given change in right atrial pressure was found to increase after bilateral nephrectomy.
5. It is suggested that the prolonged increase in cardiac output observed in anephric dogs was not the consequence of preferential plasma volume expansion nor of decreased venous compliance, but may reflect an alteration in the cardiac function curve.