The factors responsible for the frequent occurrence of hypertension in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism have not been elucidated. Suggested mediators have included hypercalcemia, renal insufficiency, and increased plasma renin activity. However, experimental results have not been reported in any species that test the hypothesis that sustained hypertension in this clinical syndrome is due to consequences of parathyroid hormone (PTH) excess versus unrelated factors (e.g., primary hypersecretion of other hormones, NaCl sensitivity, genetic factors). Moreover, no systematic evaluation of the renin or adrenal cortical responses to chronic PTH excess has been reported in any species. Accordingly, the present studies assessed the effects of chronic (12 days) continuous intravenous b-(1-34) PTH infusion in normal human subjects (n = 4). PTH infusion resulted in persistent hypercalcemia and hypertension, reversible during a 4-8-day recovery period. Transient but significant increases in urinary tetrahydroaldosterone excretion and plasma cortisol concentration were observed as hypercalcemia and hypertension developed. No significant changes in plasma potassium concentration or plasma renin activity were observed, suggesting that hypercalcemia-induced transient hypersecretion of ACTH was responsible for both cortisol and aldosterone responses. The present results suggest that hypertension associated with clinical primary hyperparathyroidism results from either direct or indirect effects of PTH excess, per se, and requires neither the long-term consequences/complications of the clinical disorder (e.g., severe nephrocalcinosis, renal insufficiency) nor primary hypersecretion of additional hormones. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that hypercalcemia alone or in combination with at least permissive levels of PTH can generate short-term, but persistent (12 days) hypertension in human subjects and thus may be the initiating mechanism for hypertension in clinical primary hyperparathyroidism.