1. Four different doses of labetalol (150, 300, 600 and 900 mg/day) were given for 1 week to each of four groups of patients with essential hypertension (six patients for each group).
2. Labetalol decreased mean blood pressure and heart rate to the same extent on the first and the seventh days of treatment. Only standing blood pressure showed a dose-dependent decrement, and heart rate showed a dose-dependent inhibition both in the supine and upright position.
3. Labetalol exerted a net inhibitory effect on plasma renin activity, which was related to basal renin values and was already maximal at the lowest doses. This effect was well maintained in the supine position, although during standing it tended to be less evident with increasing doses.
4. Urinary aldosterone was decreased in a dose-dependent fashion and its changes were largely independent of plasma renin activity.
5. Neither basal values nor changes of renin and aldosterone were related to the hypotensive effect of labetalol.
6. During labetalol treatment urinary sodium excretion fell for 2–3 days and then returned to basal values. The retentive effect of labetalol on sodium was directly related to the decrease of blood pressure, and the successive sodium escape might be explained either by the observed increase of plasma volume (indirectly measured by packed cell volume) or by aldosterone inhibition.