1. Plasma human brain natriuretic peptide-like immunoreactivity (hBNP-li) was measured in ten patients with chronic renal failure before and after 4 h of haemodialysis. 2. Plasma hBNP-li was elevated in all patients before dialysis (mean +/- SEM 21.0 +/- 3.8 pmol/l) compared with healthy control subjects (1.3 +/- 0.2 pmol/l, n = 11), but showed considerable inter-patient variability. Before dialysis plasma hBNP-li bore no relationship to the serum creatinine level or to the mean blood pressure. 3. Plasma hBNP-li fell significantly (P = 0.04) during 4 h of haemodialysis. The fall in plasma hBNP-li correlated significantly with the degree of postural blood pressure drop (r2 = 0.44, P = 0.05) and with the fall in body weight (r2 = 0.64, P less than 0.01) after haemodialysis. In all patients, plasma hBNP-li at the end of treatment remained above that in healthy subjects. 4. There was no significant correlation between the fall in plasma hBNP-li and the fall in serum creatinine level, and between the fall in plasma hBNP-li and the fall in supine systolic or diastolic blood pressure, during haemodialysis. 5. We have shown that plasma hBNP-li is elevated in patients with chronic renal failure and is decreased during haemodialysis. The fact that the plasma hBNP-li was not reduced to normal by haemodialysis despite restoration to normovolaemia gives tentative support to the view that, in addition to hypervolaemia, another factor may also be responsible for the elevated plasma hBNP-li seen in these patients.