1. The renal handling of calcium was examined in 31 patients with hypercalcaemia of malignancy. Results were compared with those from patients with primary hyperparathyroidism, and normal controls rendered hypercalcaemic by calcium infusion.
2. On relating the urinary calcium excretion indices to serum calcium values, inappropriately low rates of urinary calcium excretion were generally found in patients with malignancy associated hypercalcaemia. Further, the pattern of urinary calcium excretion in these subjects was similar to that found in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism.
3. These observations suggest that, in many solid tumours, the development of hypercalcaemia may be attributable to a humoral mediator with a parathyroid hormone-like effect on renal tubular calcium reabsorption.
4. The relatively frequent occurrence of hypercalcaemia in malignant disease thus may be partially explained by the presence of this humoral agent, which may impair the renal excretion of an increase in filtered calcium load, whether due to bone metastases, or humorally mediated osteolysis.