1. Isolated perfused rat kidneys were used to study the effects of plasma fractions obtained by gel filtration from essential hypertensive patients (n = 40) and from normotensive subjects (n = 36) on resistance vessels. Perfusion pressure was recorded at a constant flow.
2. Plasma fractions were obtained by gel filtration and contained substances with a molecular mass in the range 1000–1500 Da. The plasma fractions from hypertensive patients used in this study had been shown to increase blood pressure after intravenous injection in rats.
3. In the isolated rat kidneys, the hypertensive fractions increased perfusion pressure by 20 ± 17 mmHg (mean ± SD, range 5–58 mmHg, n = 40). The analogous fractions from normotensive subjects did not change perfusion pressure significantly.
4. In Ca2+-free medium containing 2 mmol/l ethyleneglycol bis-(aminoethyl ether)tetra-acetate, the change in perfusion pressure induced by active plasma fractions was reduced by 95.2 ± 6.3%. Addition of nifedipine to the perfusion medium reduced, but did not abolish, the pressure response of the kidneys.
5. In solutions containing phentolamine or saralasin, vasoconstriction was not reduced.
6. Thus in the active fractions from hypertensive plasma, a vasopressor agent with direct action on resistance vessels can be demonstrated. This substance probably acts by increasing Ca2+ influx in vascular smooth muscle cells.