1. Plasma renin activity (PRA) in peripheral venous blood of patients with renovascular hypertension was found to be high (thirty-five), normal (twenty-one) and low (three). Twenty-one patients with high PRA were cured or improved after successful surgery, as were eight of eleven with normal PRA and one with a low PRA. After surgery high PRA values became normal or low.
2. A β-receptor-blocking agent (oxprenolol) decreased PRA in twenty-eight patients (responders) and it either did not modify or increased PRA in the other fifteen (non-responders). All fourteen non-responders were cured by surgery, as were thirteen out of fifteen responders; ten non-responders became responders after surgery. Oxprenolol suppressed renin secretion of both kidneys of two patients with essential hypertension, and it either decreased (six) or did not modify (four) renin secretion from the ischaemic kidney.
3. PRA measurement in renal veins of twenty-six patients with renovascular hypertension showed that only the ischaemic kidney contributes to the peripheral PRA, renin secretion being suppressed in the contralateral kidney. The suppression of renin secretion from the ischaemic kidney produced either by nephrectomy (nine) or by aortorenal by-pass (six) normalized blood pressure.
4. Peripheral PRA values are of poor diagnostic significance and PRA unresponsiveness to a β-receptor-blocking drug and the suppression of renin secretion from the ischaemic kidney are characteristic findings of renovascular hypertension curable by appropriate surgery.