The physiologic effects of epinephrine on mineral metabolism are not known. In six healthy men, insulin-induced hypoglycemia, a potent stimulus to endogenous epinephrine secretion, resulted in a decrement of 0.9 ± 0.1 mg/dl (mean ± SE, P < 0.001) in serum inorganic phosphorus and smaller increments in magnesium and total and ionized calcium. Plasma immunoreactive parathyroid hormone (iPTH) decreased and plasma immunoreactive calcitonin (iCT) increased appropriately with the increments in calcium and magnesium. We wished to determine to what extent these changes in mineral metabolism might be attributable to epinephrine. Therefore, in the same protocol, we infused the hormone over 60 min in these six men, in doses that resulted in steady-state plasma epinephrine concentrations ranging from 52 to 945 pg/ml (levels that span the physiologic range), for a total of 25 studies. Serum ionized calcium, iPTH, and iCT concentrations were unaltered by these physiologic elevations of plasma epinephrine. However, epinephrine resulted in dose-dependent decrements in serum inorganic phosphorus of 0.6 ± 0.1 mg/dl (P < 0.005) for the highest epinephrine infusion rate. The plasma epinephrine concentration threshold for this hypophosphatemic effect was ~50-100 pg/ml. Thus, the sensitivity of the hypophosphatemic response to epinephrine is comparable to that of the cardiac chronotropic, systolic pressor, and lipolytic responses to epinephrine, and considerably greater than that of the diastolic depressor, glycogenolytic, glycolytic, and ketogenic responses to the hormone in human beings. In view of its rapidity, the hypophosphatemic effect of epinephrine is probably the result of a net shift of phosphate from the extracellular compartment to intracellular compartments. We suggest that it is a direct effect of epinephrine, in that it is not mediated by changes in availability of the primary regulatory hormones PTH and CT, although indirect effects mediated by changes in other hormones, such as insulin, cannot be excluded. The hypophosphatemic response is also not attributable to increments in plasma calcium. These data indicate that epinephrine in physiologic concentrations is a hypophosphatemic hormone in man.