Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) is increased in left ventricular impairment and neutral endopeptidase (NEP) is involved in its metabolism. In random order, eight patients with left ventricular impairment received placebo, a 4-h infusion of human BNP (3.0 pmol/kg min), a single oral dose of NEP inhibitor (SCH 42495, 300 mg), and combined BNP and SCH 42495. Plasma BNP, cGMP, and cortisol were significantly increased by all three treatments (P < 0.05-P < 0.001). Combined treatment had a synergistic effect on plasma cGMP. The metabolic clearance rate of exogenous BNP was reduced (25%) by NEP inhibition. Endogenous plasma ANP was augmented more than BNP by NEP inhibition. Plasma aldosterone, unchanged during infusions, rose markedly after BNP and after the combined treatment (P < 0.05 for both). Urine sodium excretion, increased by NEP inhibition (P < 0.05) and by BNP (P = 0.05), was unchanged during combined treatment. Urine cGMP excretion was increased, whereas blood pressure was reduced by all active treatments (P < 0.05-0.01 for all). Heart rate increased only with combined treatment (P = 0.007). Plasma renin activity, norepinephrine, and cardiac output were unaffected. BNP infusion and NEP inhibition both induced significant hemodynamic and renal responses. The augmented hypotensive effect of combined treatments, and consequent fall in renal perfusion pressure, may underly the observed blunting of the natriuretic response that occurred despite greater than additive increments in plasma BNP, ANP, and cGMP.