OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the renin-aldosterone system and insulin secretion in hyperparathyroidism and their effects on blood pressure regulation. DESIGN: Studies were carried out on patients with primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) prior to and following removal of the parathyroid tumor. METHODS: Sixteen normotensive and euglycemic patients with PHPT were studied. The following parameters were measured: basal and stimulated plasma renin activity (PRA) and aldosterone (ALD) secretion: parathormone (PTH) and serum electrolytes. Insulin and glucose levels were measured during an oral glucose tolerance test. RESULTS: Systolic but not diastolic blood pressure showed a decrease following surgery, from 123.3+/-13.0/80+/-8.6 to 116.7+/-13.5/77.3+/-8.8 mmHg. The decrease in the systolic pressure was not clinically significant. After surgery, both the basal and stimulated PRA and ALD values decreased, and the preoperative pathological values returned to normal: PRA basal: 1.79 --> 0.70 ng/ml/h, P=0.0049; PRA stimulated: 7.76 --> 1.90 ng/ml/h, P=0.0031; ALD basal: 111.5 --> 73.0 pg/ml, P=0.0258; ALD stimulated: 392.5 --> 236.0 pg/ml, P=0.0157. The postoperative decrease in the PRA correlated with the changes in PTH levels (r=0.5442, P < 0.05, n=16) but did not correlate with the changes in serum calcium concentrations. Both the fasting and stimulated insulin levels decreased after surgery but remained within the normal range: insulin fasting: 10.2 --> 5.0 mIU/l, P=0.0218; insulin area under the curve: 5555 --> 3296 mIU/l*min, P=0.0218. There was no correlation between the changes in insulin levels and PTH or ion levels. Sodium, potassium and blood glucose levels remained unaffected by parathyroid surgery. CONCLUSIONS: In a population of normotensive hyperparathyroid patients an increased activity of the renin-aldosterone system related to PTH was found and surgery resulted in a small and insignificant decrease in blood pressure. This change was accompanied by a significant decrease in the activity of the renin-aldosterone system indicating the role of the renin-aldosterone system in the regulation of blood pressure in PHPT. Both fasting and stimulated insulin values decreased following removal of the parathyroid tumor, but with no individual correlation with PTH and calcium levels.