1. Plasma levels of immunoreactive alpha human atrial natriuretic peptide (IR-ANP) were measured in nine patients with chronic renal failure before and after removal of 1.3–3.7 litres of fluid by ultrafiltration and again during volume repletion with intravenous sodium chloride solution (150 mmol/l: saline).
2. Baseline levels of IR-ANP were elevated but fell by 22% during ultrafiltration.
3. Saline infusion induced a rapid and steep rise in IR-ANP levels which were 150% of baseline while body weight was still 2% below baseline.
4. Changes in plasma renin, angiotensin II, aldosterone and vasopressin during the study were slight compared with the change in IR-ANP, but noradrenaline levels rose threefold during ultrafiltration.
5. There was a significant positive relationship between arterial pressure and IR-ANP levels before and after ultrafiltration.
6. These results lend support to the suggestion that atrial peptides are of physiological importance, especially in states of chronic fluid overload such as chronic renal failure.