BACKGROUND: Diabetes mellitus has led to change in fluid and electrolyte balance and consequently affected blood volume and blood pressure. These changes can trigger the secretion and synthesis of atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) from both atrial and extra-atrial tissues. ANP plays an important role in the regulations of body fluid balance and blood pressure. Therefore, this study was carried out to elucidate whether or not atrial and extra-atrial synthesis of ANP is influenced in experimental non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) rats. METHODS: Neonatal rats were induced into NIDDM rats by single injection of streptozotocin (80 mg/kg). Plasma ANP level was measured by the use of radioimmunoassay method and the ANP mRNA expressions from the right atrium, left ventricle, hypothalamus and kidney were analyzed by reverse transcription- polymerase chain reaction with [32P]-dCTP at 8 weeks after injection of streptozotocin or citrate buffer. RESULTS: Blood glucose was more significantly increased at 2 hours after glucose loading in NIDDM rats than control rats. Plasma concentration of ANP tended to significantly increase in NIDDM rats compared with control rats. The expressions of ANP mRNA from each tissue were observed in different patterns. Right atrial ANP mRNA expression revealed non-significant increasing trend in NIDDM rats, whereas left ventricular ANP mRNA did not have difference. However, both hypothalamic and renal ANP mRNA expressions in NIDDM rats were significantly increased. CONCLUSION: These results indicate that the enhanced expressions of hypothalamic and renal ANP mRNA act as an important regulator of electrolytes and body fluid volume in neonatally streptozotocin-induced NIDDM rats.