It is known that atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) is released from cardiac myocyte and other stores during hypoxia and is involved in pulmonary-cardiovascular reflexes and in natriuresis and diuresis. Since the carotid body initiates hypoxic chemoreflexes, we hypothesized that ANP could potentiate the hypoxic stimulation of the carotid body chemoreceptor in vivo. We studied the effect of close intra-arterial injection of ANP on carotid chemoreceptor activity in anesthetized male cats which were paralyzed and artificially ventilated. Graded doses of ANP (0-10 nmoles) were administered by intra-arterial injections and they produced an excitatory response. Single dose of ANP (6.5 nmoles) at four steady-state levels of arterial PO(2), at constant PCO(2), produced increases of chemoreceptor activity. This increase of chemoreceptor activity with ANP in the presence of CO(2)-HCO(3)(-) in vitro could make a difference from those without CO(2)-HCO(3)(-) in vivo.