Plasma concentrations of immunoreactive atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) were low or undetectable in 8 healthy subjects and 9 control patients without cardiac disease, and raised in 17 patients with congestive heart failure (CHF). Highest concentrations were measured in patients with severe CHF. High plasma ANP levels were also found in 2 patients with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia and associated transient polyuria. Infusion of synthetic human alpha-ANP, 110-125 micrograms over 30 min, to 3 healthy males resulted in a 2.3-fold increase in natriuresis and diuresis but had no effect on kaliuresis. Plasma levels of renin activity, aldosterone, and antidiuretic hormone did not change significantly. ANP infusion gave plasma ANP levels of the same magnitude as those found in severe CHF; levels returned to baseline within 15 min of stopping the infusion. Thus ANP appears to be a circulating hormone in man, at least in severe CHF and supraventricular tachycardia.