1. Plasma concentrations of noradrenaline and adrenaline were measured radioenzymatically in nine subjects during 4 min pressor and depressor responses (intra-arterial measurements) induced by increasing and reducing sympathetic vasoconstrictor tone via carotid baroreceptor deactivation and stimulation (neck chamber technique).
2. During the pressor response (15 ± 3 mmHg, mean ± se) plasma noradrenaline and adrenaline showed various changes in the different subjects and on average were not significantly increased above control. During the depressor response (−9 ± 2 mmHg) plasma noradrenaline and adrenaline also showed various changes in the subjects and were on average not significantly reduced below control.
3. In contrast the same subjects all showed an increase in noradrenaline and adrenaline (average 76 and 117%) at the fourth minute of a tilting manoeuvre with- a return to pretilting values no more than 4 min after resumption of the supine position.
4. These results suggest that the moderate and/or restricted alterations in sympathetic tone produced by manipulating a single baroreflex, though capable of affecting blood pressure, are not reflected by alterations in plasma catecholamines. To modify these humoral indices significantly, the more drastic or more diffuse alterations in sympathetic activity that may be produced by manipulating low as well as high pressure reflexogenic areas are needed.