1. Adrenal regeneration hypertension was induced in male Wistar rats by unilateral adrenal enucleation, contralateral adrenalectomy and the provision of a 1% (w/v) NaCl solution for drinking.
2. A fivefold increase in dietary KCl content caused a significant reduction in the systolic blood pressure of hypertensive rats but not of control rats.
3. During the increase in potassium intake there was a marked polydipsia. When 1% NaCl solution was the drinking fluid, the resultant increase in sodium intake was associated with an abolition of the antihypertensive effect of potassium loading, but when the sodium intake was held constant, the antihypertensive effect was maintained.
4. In rats with adrenal regeneration hypertension, plasma volume was significantly higher, and packed cell volume and plasma protein concentrations were significantly lower than in control rats. These differences were abolished after 4 days of dietary KCl supplementation.
5. Increased dietary potassium intake was associated with significantly lower serum aldosterone concentrations and significantly higher plasma potassium concentrations in adrenal enucleated rats compared with controls.
6. The possibility that a reduction in extracellular fluid volume (due to a natriuresis) and/or a peripheral vasodilatation contributed to the antihypertensive effect of KCl loading is discussed.