Adrenomedullin is a potent hypotensive peptide newly discovered in pheochromocytoma tissue by monitoring its elevating activity on platelet cAMP. We measured plasma concentration of adrenomedullin in patients with essential hypertension and chronic renal failure. As compared with normal subjects, plasma adrenomedullin was increased by 26% (P < 0.05) in hypertensives without organ damage and by 45% (P < 0.005) in those with organ damage. The increase in plasma adrenomedullin was more prominent in renal failure than in hypertension. Renal failure patients with plasma creatinine of 1.5-3, 3-6, and > 6 mg/dl had higher plasma adrenomedullin levels than healthy subjects by 78% (P < 0.05), 131% (P < 0.001), and 214% (P < 0.001), respectively. Moreover, adrenomedullin showed intimate correlations with norepinephrine, atrial natriuretic peptide, and cAMP in plasma (r = 0.625, P < 0.001; r = 0.656, P < 0.001; and r = 0.462, P < 0.001; respectively). Thus, plasma adrenomedullin is supposed to increase in association with changes in sympathetic nervous activity and body fluid volume in hypertension and renal failure. Considering its potent vasodilator effect, adrenomedullin may be involved in the defense mechanism preserving the integrity of the cardiovascular system in these disorders.