The effect of an acute intravenous and repeated oral doses of propranolol on haemodynamics, plasma and urinary catecholamines and plasma renin activity was studied in patients with essential hypertension. Intravenous injection of propranolol 5 mg produced a fall in cardiac output but had no consistent effect on blood pressure. Treatment with oral propranolol for 24 weeks lowered cardiac output and blood pressure; total peripheral resistance did not differ from the pretreatment values. Neither acute intravenous nor chronic oral administration of the beta-blocker affected the resting plasma levels of noradrenaline and adrenaline. Long-term treatment with propranolol reduced urinary excretion of vanilmandelic acid without affecting urinary catecholamine excretion. Acute intravenous injection of propranolol decreased plasma renin activity less than did chronic oral treatment with the drug. The observed time course of plasma renin activity was compatible with the view that suppression of this enzyme contributed to the antihypertensive effect of propranolol.