Postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a disabling condition that commonly affects otherwise normal young females. Because these patients can present with a flushing disorder, we hypothesized that mast cell activation (MCA) can contribute to its pathogenesis. Here we describe POTS patients with MCA (MCA+POTS), diagnosed by episodes of flushing and abnormal increases in urine methylhistamine, and compared them to POTS patients with episodic flushing but normal urine methylhistamine and to normal healthy age-matched female controls. MCA+POTS patients were characterized by episodes of flushing, shortness of breath, headache, lightheadedness, excessive diuresis, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Triggering events include long-term standing, exercise, premenstrual cycle, meals, and sexual intercourse. In addition, patients were disabled by orthostatic intolerance and a characteristic hyperadrenergic response to posture, with orthostatic tachycardia (from 79+/-4 to 114+/-6 bpm), increased systolic blood pressure on standing (from 117+/-5 to 126+/-7 mm Hg versus no change in POTS controls), increased systolic blood pressure at the end of phase II of the Valsalva maneuver (157+/-12 versus 117+/-9 in normal controls and 119+/-7 mm Hg in POTS; P=0.048), and an exaggerated phase IV blood pressure overshoot (50+/-10 versus 17+/-3 mm Hg in normal controls; P<0.05). In conclusion, MCA should be considered in patients with POTS presenting with flushing. These patients often present with a typical hyperadrenergic response, but beta-blockers should be used with great caution, if at all, and treatment directed against mast cell mediators may be required.