The purpose of this study was to investigate the mechanisms of action of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) in stimulating aldosterone production in two different models: bovine adrenal zona glomerulosa (ZG) cells in primary culture and the human adrenocortical carcinoma cell line H295R. PACAP binds to two major groups of receptors: type I, which prefers PACAP38 and PACAP27 over vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP); and type II, which has approximately equal affinity for PACAP38, PACAP27, and VIP. The type I subclass comprises multiple splice variants that can be distinguished by their specificity to PACAP38 and PACAP27 in their activation of adenylate cyclase and phospholipase C. Type II PACAP/ VIP receptors couple only to AC. In bovine ZG cells, PACAP38 and PACAP27 stimulated aldosterone production in a dose-dependent manner, whereas VIP was ineffective. In H295R cells, PACAP38, PACAP27, and VIP dose-dependently stimulated aldosterone production with roughly the same ED50. In bovine ZG cells, PACAP38 and PACAP27 stimulated cAMP production with similar efficacy, whereas VIP had no effect. In H295R cells, all three peptides stimulated cAMP accumulation. PACAP38 and PACAP27 also activated PLC in bovine ZG cells as they induced an increase in Ins(1,4,5)Ps production. In H295R cells, neither of these peptides was able to stimulate IP turnover. These results indicate that PACAP stimulation of aldosterone production is mediated by the PVR1s or the PVR1hop splice variants of the type I PACAP-specific receptor subtype in bovine ZG cells, whereas only type II PACAP/VIP receptors seemed to occur in the human H295R cell line. In addition, PACAP-stimulated aldosterone production was inhibited by atrial natriuretic peptide in bovine and human adrenocortical cells, however not by the same mechanism. This further supports species-specific and/or cell type-specific signaling pathways for PACAP in the regulation of aldosterone production.