The disappearance and metabolic clearance rate (MCR) of alpha human atrial natriuretic peptide (alpha h-ANP) has been studied in normal man by radioimmunoassay of the atrial peptide in plasma and plasma extracts. After an intravenous (iv) bolus injection of 100 micrograms alpha h-ANP, levels of immunoreactive alpha h-ANP (IR-alpha hANP) in unextracted plasma fell rapidly and exponentially during the first 10 min (t1/2 = 2.5 min), after which levels declined more slowly to reach basal values 30 min after injection. Venous plasma extracts, purified by Sep Pak cartridges, were used to calculate the MCR of IR-alpha hANP under steady state conditions of constant iv infusion (200 micrograms over 60 min) in healthy volunteers. Calculated MCR from venous samples was 2.4 L/min and volume of distribution 10.7 L. After cessation of infusions, the disappearance rate (rapid phase) of IR-alpha hANP was 3.1 min. These studies show that alpha h-ANP is rapidly metabolized at rates similar to other vasoactive hormones such as angiotensin II and vasopressin.