1. The response of serum angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) activity to three grades of hypoxia was studied in two groups of human subjects. Hypoxic gas mixtures having oxygen concentrations of 14, 12.6 and 10.4% were breathed successively for a period of 10 min at each concentration. Venous blood was sampled at the end of each of the three periods and arterial oxygen saturation was recorded throughout the experiment.
2. The subjects were selected as being ‘good’ or ‘poor’ acclimatizers according to their history of acute mountain sickness. There were five subjects in each group.
3. Hypoxia resulted in a reduction in ACE activity in both groups, the reduction being linear with respect to arterial oxygen saturation.
4. The reduction in ACE activity was greater in the good acclimatizer group as shown by a significantly greater slope of the response line of ACE activity to arterial oxygen saturation.
5. The significance of this finding in relation to the mechanism underlying acute mountain sickness is discussed.