To evaluate the response of circulating intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH) on myocardial hypertrophy in hemodialysis (HD) patients with secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT), echocardiographic and neurohormonal assessments were performed over a 15-week period in 15 HD patients with SHPT before and after calcitriol treatment and 10 HD control patients with SHPT not receiving calcitriol therapy. We prospectively studied a group of 15 patients with significantly elevated iPTH levels (iPTH >450 pg/mL) receiving calcitriol (2 microg after dialysis twice weekly). Clinical assessment, medication status, and biochemical and hematological measurements were performed once a month. Throughout the study, calcium carbonate levels were modified to maintain serum phosphate levels at less than 6 mg/dL, but body weight, antihypertensive medication, and ultrafiltration dose remained constant. In patients treated with calcitriol, an adequate reduction of iPTH levels was found (1,112 +/- 694 v 741 +/- 644 pg/mL; P < 0.05) without changes in values of serum ionized calcium (iCa++), phosphate, or hematocrit. Blood pressure (BP), cardiac output (CO), and total peripheral resistance (TPR) did not significantly change. After 15 weeks of treatment with calcitriol, M-mode echocardiograms showed pronounced reductions in interventricular wall thickness (13.9 +/- 3.6 v 12.8 +/- 3.10 mm; P = 0.01), left ventricular posterior wall thickness (12.5 +/- 2.4 v 11.3 +/- 1.8 mm; P < 0.05), and left ventricle mass index (LVMi; 178 +/- 73 v 155 +/- 61 g/m2; P < 0.01). However, in control patients, these changes were not found after the treatment period. In addition, sequential measurements of neurohormonal mediator levels in patients receiving calcitriol showed that plasma renin (18.5 +/- 12.7 v 12.3 +/- 11.0 pg/mL; P = 0.007), angiotensin II (AT II; 79.7 +/- 48.6 v 47.2 +/- 45.7 pg/mL; P = 0.001), and atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP; 16.6 +/- 9.7 v 12.2 +/- 4.4 pg/mL; P = 0.03) levels significantly decreased, whereas antidiuretic hormone (ADH), epinephrine, and norepinephrine levels did not change significantly. The percent change in LVMi associated with calcitriol therapy had a strong correlation with the percent change in iPTH (r = 0.52; P < 0.05) and AT II (r = 0.47; P < 0.05) levels. We conclude that the partial correction of SHPT with intravenous calcitriol causes a regression in myocardial hypertrophy without biochemical or hemodynamic changes, such as heart rate, BP, and TPR. The changes in plasma levels of iPTH and, secondarily, plasma levels of neurohormones (especially AT II) after calcitriol therapy may have a key role in attenuating ventricular hypertrophy in SHPT.