In these studies glucocorticoids were found to increase the plasma levels of atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) as well as the expression of the ANP gene in the Sprague-Dawley rat. Plasma ANP rose two-fold after 48 hrs. of exposure to dexamethasone (1 mg/day) in both intact and adrenalectomized animals. This was accompanied by a 1.5-2.0 fold increase in the levels of atrial and ventricular ANP transcripts. Deoxycorticosterone acetate (5 mg/day), administered on the same schedule, failed to increase either plasma ANP levels or cardiac ANP mRNA accumulation. These effects suggest that ANP may have a potential role as a mediator of glucocorticoid activity in the cardiovascular system and support the hypothesis that ANP is a glucocorticoid-regulated gene.