1. The objective of the present study was to determine the plasma half-life of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) in conscious dogs after intravenous administration and to compare this with its haemodynamic effects. In six chronically instrumented dogs, plasma BNP concentrations were measured under basal conditions, during a constant infusion of canine BNP-32 (10 pmol/kg per min; 25 min) to steady state and at nominated time points up to 75 min after stopping the infusion. Concomitant, continuous measurements of mean arterial blood pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), central venous pressure (CVP) and mesenteric blood flow (MBF) were obtained. 2. Baseline plasma BNP levels were 15.0 +/- 2.3 fmol/mL and rose approximately 10-fold to 159 +/- 23 fmol/mL after 20-25 min BNP infusion. When the infusion was turned off, plasma BNP levels declined in a biphasic manner, with an initial half-life of 1.57 +/- 0.14 min and a terminal half-life of 301 +/- 85 min. The metabolic clearance rate of BNP was 2.29 +/- 0.34 L/min. 3. The infusion of BNP reduced MAP (approximately 10%), CVP (approximately 65%) and MBF (approximately 25%), whereas haematocrit (approximately 4%) and mesenteric vascular resistance (MVR) increased (approximately 40%; all P < 0.05). Plasma BNP levels returned to baseline by 20 min after BNP infusion had been stopped, whereas none of the haemodynamic variables returned to normal by this time. Mean arterial pressure returned to resting levels within 10-15 min after plasma BNP returned to normal. However, CVP, haematocrit and MBF remained substantially below baseline values for more than 20 min after circulating BNP levels had returned to pre-infusion levels. Of these, only mesenteric vascular changes were returned to baseline within 60 min of plasma BNP levels normalizing. 4. These results demonstrate that the removal of BNP from the canine circulation is rapid, similar to observations made regarding the metabolism of circulating atrial natriuretic peptide in dogs. The half-life of BNP in dogs was shorter than that in rats, sheep or humans. However, the haemodynamic actions of BNP substantially outlasted its plasma half-life. Whether this disparity in plasma level and haemodynamic activity of BNP reflects long-lasting activation of second messenger systems or slow recovery from the hydraulic changes at the capillary level, reflected in the haematocrit and CVP, remains to be answered.