1. Plasma renin activity, body weight and blood pressure were measured before and after 7 days' treatment with bendrofluazide in ten hypertensive subjects. They were then treated with bendrofluazide alone (5 mg daily) for a minimum of 3 years. The diuretic was then discontinued and the measurements were repeated before and again after 7 days with bendrofluazide. The results were compared with those obtained before chronic treatment with the diuretic.
2. Chronic diuretic treatment was associated with a persistent and progressive rise in plasma renin activity, that fell promptly to pretreatment levels when diuretics were discontinued. This was associated with significant weight gain but no immediate significant rise in blood pressure.
3. When acutely challenged with bendrofluazide the patients showed a greater increase in plasma renin activity on the second occasion than on the first. Three out of five patients with an initially subnormal response had normal responses after chronic diuretic treatment.
4. Chronic diuretic treatment increased the responsiveness of the juxtaglomerular apparatus in some hypertensive patients.
5. Classification of hypertensive patients into renin subgroups may be influenced by previous therapy, even when that therapy has been discontinued for 4 weeks. In particular ‘low renin hypertension’ may be masked by recent use of diuretics, as shown by three of the five patients in this subgroup in the present study.