The effect of bovine growth hormone on adenylate cyclase activity was studied in bovine and rat renal medulla. Highly purified growth hormone (lot B1003A) increased adenylate cyclase activity in plasma membranes from bovine renal medulla from 132 ± 6 pmol cyclic AMP formed/mg protein per 10 min to 364 ± 10 pmol cyclic AMP formed/mg protein per 10 min. Similar results were seen with homogenates of rat renal medulla. The minimum effective concentration of bovine growth hormone required to activate adenylate cyclase was 0.5 μg/ml and maximum activation was detected at 500 μg/ml. The amount of vasopressin determined by radioimmunoassay to contaminate the growth hormone caused an increase in adenylate cyclase activity comparable to that of the corresponding concentration of growth hormone that was tested. Dialysis of growth hormone and vasopressin resulted in parallel reductions in the effect of each hormone on adenylate cyclase activity. Similarly, both growth hormone and vasopressin produced increases in short circuit current in isolated toad bladders but these effects were not detectable after dialysis of the hormones. In contrast, the effect of growth hormone on the uptake of 35SO42- by cartilage from hypophysectomized rats was not decreased after dialysis. These results indicate that available preparations of growth hormone are contaminated by small but physiologically significant amounts of vasopressin and that the activation of adenylate cyclase activity in renal medulla in response to growth hormone can be explained by this contamination rather than by an effect of growth hormone per se.