Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) inhibits the growth of a variety of cell types in vitro including mesangial cells. The effects of ANP on the growth of the kidney in vivo were evaluated. A 2-h infusion of 0.2 microgram/250 g body wt per minute of ANP suppressed the subsequent uptake of [3H]thymidine into the renal DNA of uninephrectomized but not intact rats. This treatment also depressed the ratio of RNA/DNA in kidneys undergoing compensatory growth. Correlative physiologic studies revealed enhanced GFR in rats with two kidneys infused with ANP, but no increase in the GFR of uninephrectomized rats. It was concluded that ANP may oppose the growth factor(s) mediating compensatory renal growth.