The aim was to study the renal and hormonal effects of intravenous 99-126 atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) infusion in a mixed group of patients who had moderate to severe chronic renal failure (CRF) and who were not treated with dialysis. The peak mean plasma level of ANF achieved during the experiment was at the upper limit of an absolute range of basal values previously recorded in a larger group of patients with similar degrees of renal impairment. A significant tissue effect was confirmed by rises in plasma and urinary cyclic guanosine monophosphate, the 'second-messenger' of ANF. ANF infusion increased sodium excretion rate by a mean of 68% compared with a fall of 40% in a placebo group, and significant increases in urinary albumin excretion occurred during the peptide infusion. Thus, the high levels of plasma ANF found in CRF may have a role in the maintenance of sodium balance. In addition, the proteinuric effect may be detrimental to long-term renal function.