AIM: The aim of the present study was to investigate the behaviour of plasma adrenomedullin (AM), a hypotensive peptide, in patients with malignant (MHT) and renovascular hypertension (RVH), 2 pathologic conditions in which renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is activated and to compare them with those in essential hypertensive patients (EHT) and normotensive subjects (NS). METHODS: Three groups of hypertensive patients have been studied: group 1 (4 patients with MHT), group 2 (10 patients with RVH), group 3 (24 patients with EHT) and 21 patients NS were enrolled as controls. In all patients, 10 ml vein blood samples were collected and AM was measured with specific radioimmunoassay. RESULTS: As expected, the plasma renin activity (PRA) levels in the RVH and MHT patients were significantly higher (p<0.0001) respect to NS and EHT. The mean plasma AM (+/-SD) concentrations in EHT (22.5+/-9.1 pg/ml) and RVH (46.8+/-19.4 pg/ml) were significantly (p<0.0001) higher than those in NS (13.7+/-6.1 pg/ml). The plasma AM concentrations were further elevated in MHT patients (107+/-12.3 pg/ml) and were significantly higher (p<0.0001) than those in EHT and RVH patients. In the MHT patients the elevated plasma AM levels, similarly to blood pressure and PRA values, declined after antihypertensive treatment (36.8+/-5.7 pg/ml; p<0.01). CONCLUSION: In conclusion, the findings demonstrated that the plasma AM concentrations were increased in proportion to the severity of arterial hypertension. RAS was activated in patients with MHT and RVH suggesting that activation of this system may contribute to increased in the plasma levels of AM.