This study examined the role of increased renal arterial pressure (RAP) in renal escape from the chronic Na-retaining effects of angiotensin II (ANG II). When RAP was allowed to increase during ANG II infusion (5 ng X kg-1 X min-1), urinary Na excretion (UNaV) decreased transiently on the first day but there was no significant change in Na iothalamate space or cumulative Na balance when ANG II infusion was continued for 6 days. Mean arterial pressure (MAP) rose from 100 +/- 3 to 132 +/- 2 mmHg after 3 days and remained near that level for the next 5 days of ANG II infusion. When RAP was prevented from rising with a servo-controlled aortic occluder, UNaV remained below control even after 6 days of ANG II infusion, cumulative Na balance increased by 210 +/- 37 meq, and Na iothalamate space rose by 1,158 +/- 244 ml. MAP did not plateau when RAP was servo-controlled during ANG II infusion but continued to rise and after 6 days averaged 157 +/- 3 mmHg. In three of the eight dogs in which RAP was servo-controlled during ANG II infusion, Na and water retention became so severe that MAP increased to 165-180 mmHg and pulmonary edema developed within 4-6 days. These data suggest that a rise in RAP is essential in allowing the kidneys to escape from the chronic Na-retaining actions of ANG II and in attaining Na balance and a stable level of MAP without severe volume expansion.