The peptide urotensin-II (U-II) has been described as most potent vasoconstrictor identified so far, but plasma values in humans and its role in cardiovascular pathophysiology are unknown. We investigated circulating urotensin-II and its potential role in human congestive heart failure (CHF). We enrolled control individuals (n=13; cardiac index [CI], 3.5+/-0.1 l/min/m2; pulmonary wedge pressure [PCWP], 10+/-1 mm Hg), patients with moderate (n=10; CI, 2.9+/-0.3 l/min/m2; PCWP, 14+/-2 mm Hg) and severe CHF (n=11; CI, 1.8+/-0.2 l/min/m2; PCWP, 33+/-2 mm Hg). Plasma levels of urotensin-II differed neither between controls, patients with moderate and severe CHF nor between different sites of measurement (pulmonary artery, left ventricle, coronary sinus, antecubital vein) within the single groups. Hemodynamic improvement by vasodilator therapy in severe CHF (CI, +78+/-3%; PCWP, -55+/-3%) did not affect circulating U-II over 24 h. Preprourotensin-II mRNA expression in right atria, left ventricles, mammary arteries and saphenous veins did not differ between controls with normal heart function and patients with end-stage CHF. In conclusion, urotensin-II plasma levels and its myocardial and vascular gene expression are unchanged in human CHF. Circulating urotensin-II does not respond to acute hemodynamic improvement. These findings suggest that urotensin-II does not play a major role in human CHF.