The effects of indapamide (2.5 mg once a day) on urinary composition are reported in 20 patients (10 with recurrent calcium nephrolithiasis and 10 with essential hypertension) compared with 20 controls. Indapamide was well absorbed in every patient (mean plasma level at the steady state was 111 +/- 41 ng/ml) and its antihypertensive action was more pronounced in hypertensive than in normotensive patients. It lowered calcium excretion in 18/20 patients (mean fall on the 7th day of treatment: 53%) and raised the Mg/Ca ratio in 20/20 patients (mean increase on the 7th day: 167%). The effect on Ca2+ and Mg2+ excretion was not associated with a strong diuretic effect. During intravenous calcium loading (0.375 mmol/kg body weight) 6 normal subjects after a single oral dose of indapamide excreted less calcium, suggesting a direct renal hypocalciuric action by the drug. Indapamide could represent an alternative drug to thiazide diuretics in diseases with dangerous renal calcium losses, but long-term studies are needed.