We investigated the effect of angiotensin II (ANG II) and enalapril on accumulation of renin messenger RNA (mRNA) and on renal renin distribution (immunohistochemical analysis). Adult Wistar-Kyoto rats received enalapril (0.2 mg/ml) in distilled drinking water for 8 or 12 days. On day 5 of enalapril treatment, an osmotic minipump was implanted in the peritoneum that caused sustained release of ANG II (200 ng.kg-1.min-1) or vehicle (bovine serum albumin) for 3 or 7 days. Control rats received water for 8 or 12 days and osmotic minipump implantation (containing vehicle solution) on the 5th day. Renin mRNA was identified by hybridization with a 32P-labeled full-length complementary DNA and was detected by autoradiography. Enalapril treatment increased renal renin mRNA specific activity (renin mRNA/total RNA). Subsequent infusion of angiotensin II for 3 or 7 days decreased renal renin mRNA specific activity. In addition, renin immunostaining increased along the afferent arteriole after enalapril treatment; however, enalapril-induced spread of renin immunostaining was not inhibited by ANG II. Thus ANG II attenuates the accumulation of renin mRNA stimulated by enalapril treatment without alteration of renal renin distribution. The lack of effect of ANG II on renal renin distribution may be due to the length of turnover time for stored protein. These findings suggest the shortloop negative feedback of ANG II on renin reflects inhibition of renin synthesis by ANG II. Therefore, we propose that ANG II exerts a direct inhibitory effect on renin by regulation of renin gene expression in renal vasculature.