1. An inactive form of renin exists in rabbit plasma. This can be activated, and therefore measured, after acidification (pH 2.8).
2. The effect of frusemide diuresis, with replacement of volume losses, on plasma levels of active and inactive renin was studied over a 3 1/2 h time course. Plasma active renin increased during frusemide diuresis but inactive renin disappeared from the circulation. The time courses for the changes in the two forms of renin were similar.
3. The peak of the frusemide-induced changes in renal function (urine flow, sodium and potassium excretion and creatinine clearance) preceded the maximum changes in the two forms of renin by 90 min.
4. The response of plasma levels of inactive renin to physiological stimuli depends on the nature of the stimulus, as well as its duration. Some form of sodium-sensitive mechanism may control the activation of inactive renin.