The molecular weight (MW) of active renin (AR) and inactive renin (IR) was investigated in individual plasma samples from 15 essential hypertensive and 5 normal subjects. The patients with essential hypertension were classified into 3 subgroups: low plasma renin activity (PRA), normal PRA and high PRA. The MW of AR and IR was estimated by Sephadex G-100 gel filtration. IR in the eluates was activated with trypsin. Plasma renin activity and renin activity in eluates were measured by radioimmunoassay of angiotensin I. At least 3 sizes of AR (MW: 48,000, 53,000 and 57,000) and 2 sizes of IR (MW: 53,000 and 57,000) were discovered, and the MW of AR was less than or equal to the MW of IR. The larger AR was predominant in the low PRA group and the smaller one in the high PRA group. This was also true for IR. This relation was also observed in the 2 types (high renin and low renin) of pooled plasma. In high renin pooled plasma the MW of AR and IR was about 48,000 and 54,000, respectively, while both were about 56,000 in low renin pooled plasma. It appears that the larger type of AR and IR remains in the circulation in the suppressed renin state, and that the smaller type of renins enters into the circulation when the secretion of renins is enhanced.