The release of arginine vasopressin (AVP) and atrial natriuretic hormone (ANH) and their involvement in renal water and electrolyte metabolism in primary aldosteronism in humans were studied. An oral acute water load (20 ml/kg body weight) was given to each of 12 patients before and after surgical removal of their aldosterone-producing adenoma(s). Plasma AVP and ANH were measured simultaneously, and renal water and electrolyte metabolism and tubular functions were determined. The same water load was given to seven normal subjects and the same parameters were determined. In the presence of mineralocorticoid excess before the operation, plasma AVP was relatively low compared with plasma osmolality (Posm), but was not suppressed in response to decreases in Posm after the water load. Baseline plasma ANH was high and increased further after the water load; urinary dilution and diuresis both remained normal. After the operation, baseline plasma AVP was normal and decreased in response to the decrease in Posm after the water load, with normal urinary dilution and diuresis. Baseline plasma ANH was normal, and did not increase after the water load. The ratio of urinary K and Na clearances and distal tubular reabsorption of Na increased before the operation. These results suggest that there are perturbations of AVP and ANH release in primary aldosteronism, despite the normal urinary dilution after a water load.