In order to determine the effect and mechanism of Mg on vascular tone, a 3-hour infusion of Mg (200 mg/h) was administered to normal subjects. The Mg infusion resulted in a drop in blood pressure (BP), a rise in renal blood flow, and an increase in urinary 6-keto-PGF1 alpha excretion. Cyclooxygenase inhibition with indomethacin and the calcium channel blocker, nifedipine, prevented these vascular effects of Mg. These data suggest that prostacyclin release via changes in Ca2+ flux may be the mechanism of Mg vasodilatory action. Since angiotensin II (AII) acts via the Ca2+ messenger system, we also studied the effects of Mg loading and dietary Mg depletion on AII responses. Mg loading blunted the rise in BP and the aldosterone-stimulating effect of AII, whereas Mg depletion significantly enhanced these AII effects. These results support the hypothesis that Mg may be an antagonist of the pressor and steroidogenic effects of AII.