Natriuretic peptide receptor-A (NPR-A), also known as guanylyl cyclase-A, is a transmembrane receptor guanylyl cyclase that is activated by the cardiac hormones atrial natriuretic peptide and B-type natriuretic peptide. Although ligand-dependent NPR-A degradation (also known as down-regulation) is widely acknowledged in human and animal models of volume overload, down-regulation in cultured cells is controversial. Here, we examined the effect of ANP exposure on cellular NPR-A levels as a function of time. Relative receptor concentrations were estimated using guanylyl cyclase and immunoblot assays in a wide variety of cell lines that endogenously or exogenously expressed low or high numbers of receptors. ANP exposures of 1 h markedly reduced hormone-dependent but not detergent-dependent guanylyl cyclase activities in membranes from exposed cells. However, 1-h ANP exposures did not significantly reduce NPR-A concentrations in any cell line. In contrast, exposures of greater than 1 h reduced receptor concentrations in a time-dependent manner. The time required for half of the receptors to be degraded (t(1/2)) in primary bovine aortic endothelial and immortalized HeLa cells was approximately 8 h. In contrast, a 24-h exposure of ANP to 293T cells stably overexpressing NPR-A caused less than half of the receptors to be degraded. To our knowledge, this is the first report to directly measure NPR-A down-regulation in endogenously expressing cells. We conclude that down-regulation is a universal property of NPR-A but is relatively slow and varies with receptor expression levels and cell type.