1. The role of the sympathetic nervous system in the release of renin during head-up tilt has been studied in five normal subjects and in four tetraplegic patients with cervical spinal-cord transection above the sympathetic outflow. Blood pressure, heart rate and concentrations of plasma noradrenaline, plasma adrenaline and plasma renin activity were measured during head-up tilt to 45° before and after acute β-adrenoreceptor blockade with intravenous propranolol.
2. In the normal subjects there were minimal changes in blood pressure during head-up tilt and there was a rise in both plasma noradrenaline concentration and plasma renin activity. After propranolol values of plasma renin activity at rest fell with little change occurring during head-up tilt.
3. In the tetraplegic patients there was a substantial fall in blood pressure during head-up tilt. Concentrations of plasma noradrenaline and adrenaline did not change but there was a marked increase in plasma renin activity. Values of plasma renin activity both at rest and during head-up tilt were unaffected by propranolol.
4. We conclude that in tetraplegic patients renin release during head-up tilt may occur independently of sympathetic nervous activity and is probably largely dependent on activation of renal vascular receptors.