A-type (atrial) natriuretic peptide (ANP) levels in the auricular cardiocytes and plasma were examined by immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and radioimmunoassay in pregnant and lactating mice. Additionally, the cardiocyte ANP mRNA expression was measured by the polymerase chain reaction method. ANP-immunoreactivity (IR) and the number of ANP-granules in the cardiocytes on the 18th day of gestation were greater than those in virgin controls, but the plasma ANP concentration decreased on the 18th day of gestation. On the day of delivery, ANP-IR and the number of ANP-granules in the cardiocytes were decreased compared to those during the pregnancy and to those in virgin controls, and then began to increase continually until the 15th day of lactation. Plasma ANP concentration after delivery was significantly higher than that during pregnancy, and than that in virgin controls, and continued to increase until the 15th day of lactation. Cardiocyte ANP mRNA expression was highest on the day of delivery compared to that in all the other times. In conclusion, these results suggested that the circulating systems of ANP during pregnancy and lactation were regulated differentially.