1. Cardiovascular and metabolic responses to intravenous infusions of adrenaline (ADR), which raised arterial plasma ADR in a stepwise fashion from 0.3 to 1.3, 2.3 and 6.0 nmol/l, were studied in 11 healthy volunteers.
2. ADR evoked marked and concentration-dependent increases in stroke volume and cardiac output (thermodilution), as well as decreases in the vascular resistances of the systemic circulation, calf and adipose tissue. These changes were significant from 1.3 nmol/l ADR. Less marked effects were found on blood pressure and heart rate.
3. Significant arterial ADR concentration-effect relationships were found for cyclic AMP, glycerol, glucose, lactate and noradrenaline, but not for insulin. Cyclic AMP and glycerol were significantly elevated at 1.3, glucose at 2.3, but lactate not below 6.0 nmol/l ADR. Increases in adipose tissue blood flow and arterial glycerol levels were correlated (P < 0.001), suggesting a metabolic component in the blood flow response of adipose tissue.
4. Invasive haemodynamic measurements revealed that ADR at arterial concentrations within the lower physiological range had considerable effects on cardiac output and vascular resistances, despite moderate changes in the conventional non-invasive haemodynamic variables blood pressure and heart rate.
5. ADR elicited clear-cut responses at arterial plasma concentrations attained during various kinds of mild to moderate stress.