The endothelin receptor antagonist avosentan may cause fluid overload at doses of 25 and 50 mg, but the actual mechanisms of this effect are unclear. We conducted a placebo-controlled study in 23 healthy subjects to assess the renal effects of avosentan and the dose dependency of these effects. Oral avosentan was administered once daily for 8 days at doses of 0.5, 1.5, 5, and 50 mg. The drug induced a dose-dependent median increase in body weight, most pronounced at 50 mg (0.8 kg on day 8). Avosentan did not affect renal hemodynamics or plasma electrolytes. A dose-dependent median reduction in the fractional renal excretion of sodium was found (up to 8.7% at avosentan 50 mg); this reduction was paralleled by a dose-related increase in proximal sodium reabsorption. It is suggested that avosentan dose-dependently induces sodium retention by the kidney, mainly through proximal tubular effects. The potential clinical benefits of avosentan should therefore be investigated at doses of <or= 5 mg.