Because both metabolic (Met Acid) and respiratory acidosis (Resp Acid) have diverse effects on mineral metabolism, it has been difficult to establish whether acidosis directly affects parathyroid hormone (PTH) secretion. Our goal was to determine whether acute Met Acid and Resp Acid directly affected PTH secretion. Three groups of dogs were studied: control, acute Met Acid induced by HCl infusion, and acute Resp Acid induced by hypoventilation. EDTA was infused to prevent acidosis-induced increases in ionized calcium, but more EDTA was needed in Met Acid than in Resp Acid. The PTH response to EDTA-induced hypocalcemia was evaluated also. Magnesium needed to be infused in groups receiving EDTA to prevent hypomagnesemia. The half-life of intact PTH (iPTH) was determined during hypocalcemia when PTH was measured after parathyroidectomy. During normocalcemia, PTH values were greater (p < 0.05) in Met Acid (92 +/- 19 pg/ml) and Resp Acid (77 +/- 22 pg/ml) than in controls (27 +/- 5 pg/ml); the respective pH values were 7.23 +/- 0.01, 7.24 +/- 0.01, and 7.39 +/- 0.02. The maximal PTH response to hypocalcemia was greater (p < 0.05) in Met Acid (443 +/- 54 pg/ml) than in Resp Acid (267 +/- 37 pg/ml) and controls (262 +/- 48 pg/ml). The half-life of PTH was greater (p < 0.05) in Met Acid than in controls, but the PTH secretion rate also was greater (p < 0.05) in Met Acid than in the other two groups. In conclusion, (1) both acute Met Acid and Resp Acid increase PTH secretion when the ionized calcium concentration is normal; (2) acute Met Acid may increase the bone efflux of calcium more than Resp Acid; (3) acute Met Acid acts as a secretogogue for PTH secretion because it enhances the maximal PTH response to hypocalcemia.