This study reports the effects of the removal of endogenous PTH by thyroparathyroidectomy (TPTX) on the recovery of the reduced renal cAMP response to parathyroid hormone (PTH) in rats with chronically elevated PTH secondary to diets deficient in either vitamin D or calcium. After TPTX and infusion with a calcium-glucose solution of the vitamin D-deficient rat, calcium and PTH fell from 5.8 mg/dl and 2,509 pg/ml, respectively, to 4.8 mg/dl and 160 pg/ml at 48 h. There was a partial restoration of response to PTH, assessed by assay of renal cortical adenylate cyclase activity from 64% of control activity prior to TPTX to 84% of control activity at 48 h. When rats fed the diet deficient in calcium were TPTX, serum PTH fell rapidly from 2,811 to 200 pg/ml at 5 h with no further change at 21 h, whereas calcium did not change (5.3 mg/dl). PTH-dependent adenylate cyclase activity increased from 59% of control activity prior to TPTX to 87% at 5 h and 100% of control activity at 21 h after TPTX. Each diet produced similar increases in the serum level of immunoreactive PTH, and the rate of disappearance of the circulating hormone after TPTX was also similar for both groups of rats. The data indicate a slow, partial recovery of the enzyme response to PTH after TPTX of the vitamin D-deficient rat over the time period studied, whereas the recovery was rapid and complete in rats fed the diet deficient in calcium.