Delayed facilitation of norepinephrine release through the action of epinephrine (NE) at presynaptic beta-adrenoceptors has been postulated to account for the delayed hemodynamic effects of epinephrine and to be a mechanism causally related to the development of hypertension. To determine whether a short-term increase in epinephrine concentrations resulted in subsequent facilitation of sympathetic responses, 9 healthy subjects (age, 21+/-0.9 years) were studied at rest and during physiological stress on 2 occasions when they received an infusion of either saline or epinephrine (20 ng/kg per minute) in random order. Heart rate, blood pressure, forearm blood flow, epinephrine concentrations, and NE spillover were measured at rest, during mental stress (Stroop test), and during a cold pressor test. Measurements were performed before, during the 1-hour infusion of epinephrine or placebo, and 1 hour after the infusion. A radioisotope dilution method was used to measure NE spillover. Hemodynamic measurements and NE spillover were increased during the infusion of epinephrine, but 1 hour after discontinuation of epinephrine there was no significant augmentation of hemodynamic or sympathetic responses. NE spillover 1 hour after saline or epinephrine infusion was similar (0.85+/-0.2 versus 0. 87+/-0.2 microg/min; P=0.92). In addition, there was no delayed facilitation of stress-induced hemodynamic or NE responses after epinephrine. These findings do not support the hypothesis that epinephrine results in delayed facilitation of NE release.