We evaluated the effects of dopamine (DA) and synthetic atrial natriuretic polypeptide (ANP) on the release of catecholamines (CA) from the adrenal medulla. Adrenal glands of male Wistar rats were superfused with Ringer's solution saturated with 95%, O2, 5% CO2 by the use of a continuous flow incubation system, and norepinephrine (NE) and epinephrine (E) concentrations in the perfusate were continuously measured by high pressure liquid chromatography with fluorescent reaction. And the effects of DA and ANP on the CA release were evaluated. Next the effects of metoclopramide (MC), dopamine (D2) antagonist, and glucagon were added in the Ringer's solution, and the changes of NE and E in the perfusate were determined. Basal secretion of NE and E were 0.02-0.04 ng/mg.wet weight/min and 0.05-0.1 ng/mg.wet weight/min, respectively. DA remarkably decreased both NE and E release, and the suppressive effect was dependent on DA concentration in the perfusate. MC clearly raised NE and E release as well as glucagon. The increasing effect of MC was perfectly suppressed by 10(-4) M of DA. But the effect of glucagon was not blocked by the same dose of DA. Alpha rANP (10(-5)M) slightly decreased the releases of NE and E from adrenal medulla, and the magnitude of the effect of rANP was smaller than that of DA. MC significantly increased NE and E release even when the adrenal gland was superfused with Ringer's solution containing 10(-5)M of rANP. These data suggest that the release of CA from adrenal medulla may be regulated by DA, and that the receptors specifically binding to DA may exist in adrenal medulla as well as sympathetic presynaps. We concluded that DA (but not ANP) may play an important role in controlling (suppressing) the activity of sympathoadrenomedullary system.