The role of intracellular messengers in the stimulatory effect of angiotensin II on angiotensinogen synthesis and secretion in hepatocytes was examined. Angiotensinogen secretion was not influenced by modulators of intracellular calcium (calmidazolium, A 23187, Bay K 8644, methoxamine). In contrast, agents decreasing intracellular cAMP (angiotensin II, guanfacine) stimulated, and those increasing cAMP (isoproterenol, glucagon, forskolin) depressed angiotensinogen secretion. An inverse relationship was also observed between cAMP and angiotensinogen mRNA. Pretreatment of hepatocytes with pertussis toxin abolished the stimulation by angiotensin II. It is concluded that angiotensin II-induced stimulation of angiotensinogen synthesis is initiated by inhibition of adenylate cyclase.