Blockade of AngII (angiotensin II) and ET (endothelin)-1, established and potential therapeutic strategies respectively, for heart failure, may have an adverse effect on the cardiac secretion of the natriuretic peptides, hormones with actions beneficial in this disease. The present study investigates the roles of AngII and ET-1 in regulating the stretch-induced release of the natriuretic peptides during the development of heart failure. On seven separate days, eight sheep underwent incremental left ventricular pacing (155, 190 and 225 beats/min for 90 min each) with concurrent infusions of a vehicle control, AngII, ET-1, AngII+ET-1, losartan [AT1 (AngII type 1) receptor antagonist], bosentan (ET(A)/ET(B) receptor antagonist) or losartan+bosentan. Pacing-induced rises in LAP (left atrial pressure) were amplified by the simultaneous administration of separate AngII and ET-1, and attenuated following blockade of the peptides, with maximum effects observed during combined treatments. Although these changes in atrial pressure were paralleled by concomitant alterations in circulating levels of both ANP (atrial natriuretic peptide) and BNP (brain natriuretic peptide), the plasma natriuretic peptide/atrial pressure relationship tended to be augmented by AngII and ET-1 and diminished by their blockade. A significant difference was demonstrated between the enhanced plasma BNP response to increasing LAP during combined AngII+ET-1 administration and decreased response during losartan+bosentan treatment ( P <0.05). A similar, but non-significant, trend was evident for ANP. The present study indicates dual AngII/ET-1 blockade diminishes BNP (and to a lesser extent ANP) secretion in developing heart failure, suggesting that augmentation of the natriuretic peptide system during the combination of these therapies may be of benefit.