Heart rate and blood pressure responses during supine rest, orthostasis, and sustained handgrip exercise at 30% maximal voluntary contraction were determined in eight healthy women aged 18-36 years who consumed diets varying in copper and ascorbic acid content. Copper retention and plasma copper concentration were not affected by diet. Enzymatic, but not immunoreactive, ceruloplasmin was lower (p less than 0.05) after the low copper and high ascorbic acid diet periods. Diet had no effect on resting supine heart rates, orthostatic responses in heart rate and blood pressure, or standing resting blood pressure. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures were increased significantly (p less than 0.05) during the handgrip test at the end of the low copper and ascorbic acid supplementation periods. Also, the ratio of enzymatic to immunoreactive ceruloplasmin decreased significantly during these dietary treatments. The mean arterial blood pressure at the end of the handgrip test was negatively (p less than 0.0004) correlated with the ceruloplasmin ratios. These findings indicate a functional alteration in human blood pressure regulation during mild copper depletion.