The factors associated with the exercise-induced increase in plasma atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) have not been clearly established. Thus the purpose of the study was to further document the stimulus for the exercise-induced release of ANP and to examine the role of ANP in the control of hydromineral balance during exercise. Eight healthy male volunteers (25.1 +/- 4.5 yr) were submitted to a graded cycling exercise in both the upright and supine positions. Venous blood was sampled at rest and at the end of each 5-min work load at 40, 60, and 80% maximal oxygen uptake (Vo2max), at maximal exercise, and during recovery through an indwelling catheter for the determination of plasma vasopressin, aldosterone, catecholamines, plasma renin activity, and ANP concentrations. Results indicate a significant increase in ANP (pg/ml) from rest to maximal exercise in the upright position [rest, 21.9 +/- 10.2; 40%, 24.7 +/- 12.6; 60%, 32.4 +/- 17*; 80%, 47.8 +/- 27.7*; 100% Vo2max, 65.9 +/- 34.5* (*P less than or equal to 0.05)]. Supine concentrations were significantly higher than upright at 40 (37.9 +/- 15.2), 60 (54.0 +/- 18.8), and 80% Vo2max (68.9 +/- 16.6). Plasma ANP during maximal exercise was similar in both positions. Plasma vasopressin, aldosterone, renin activity, and catecholamines increased with increasing exercise intensity in both positions, although lower values were systematically observed in the supine position. The association of higher plasma ANP and blunted plasma vasopressin, plasma renin activity, and norepinephrine concentrations during supine exercise suggests that ANP may exert modulatory effects on the control of the hydromineral hormonal system during exercise.