The escape from the sodium-retaining effects of prolonged mineralocorticoid treatment in animals and humans was first noted over 40 yr ago, but despite intense study the mechanisms responsible for the escape phenomenon have not been identified. Putative "natriuretic hormones" have been proposed to account for the escape phenomenon. To determine whether atrial natriuretic peptides (ANP) could participate in the escape phenomenon, the mineralocorticoid deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA) was administered to conscious dogs for 14 days. Escape was accompanied by a doubling of plasma ANP concentration and four- to sevenfold increases in cardiac ANP messenger RNA. There were also significant increases in mean arterial blood pressure during the last 8 days of DOCA treatment. Thus increases in the synthesis and secretion of ANP and increases in atrial pressure may represent mechanisms that contribute to the escape from mineralocorticoid-induced sodium retention.