Many of the physiologic consequences of weightlessness and the cardiovascular abnormalities on return from space could be due, at least in part, to alterations in the regulation of the autonomic nervous system. In this article, the authors review the rationale and evidence for an autonomic mediation of diverse changes that occur with spaceflight, including the anemia and hypovolemia of weightlessness and the tachycardia and orthostatic intolerance on return from space. This hypothesis is supported by studies of two groups of persons known to have low catecholamine levels: persons subjected to prolonged bedrest and persons with syndromes characterized by low circulating catecholamines (Bradbury-Eggleston syndrome and dopamine beta-hydroxylase deficiency). Both groups exhibit the symptoms mentioned. The increasing evidence that autonomic mechanisms underlie many of the physiologic consequences of weightlessness suggests that new pharmacologic approaches (such as administration of beta-blockers and/or sympathomimetic amines) based on these findings may attenuate these unwanted effects.