Prostacyclin has been implicated as a mediator of renin release, whereas angiotensin II evokes prostaglandin I2 (PGI2) release from both vascular and nonvascular tissues in vitro. The physiological significance of these observations was assessed by measurement of an index of endogenous prostacyclin biosynthesis in human volunteers during varied activation of the renin-angiotensin system secondary to manipulation of dietary sodium. Excretion of the major urinary metabolite of prostacyclin in man, 2,3-dinor-6-keto-PGF1 alpha (PGI-M), fell from 295 +/- 51 to 176 +/- 35 (+/- SEM) ng g creatinine-1 (P less than 0.01) in 10 normal subjects when sodium intake was decreased from 150 to 10 meq/day. In five patients with primary hyperaldosteronism, PGI-M fell from 199 +/- 34 ng g creatinine-1 preoperatively to 120 +/- 26 pg/mg creatinine-1 after removal of the adenoma. In such patients, the reduction in PGI-M was associated with a significant increase in PRA. Thus, in both normal subjects and patients with hyperaldosteronism, PGI-M excretion fell rather than increased with activation of the renin-angiotensin system. This suggests that systemic biosynthesis of PGI2 is unrelated to renin release and that angiotensin II is unlikely to stimulate endogenous prostacyclin biosynthesis under these conditions in man.