Hepatic and renal extraction of immunoreactive parathyroid hormone (i PTH) was studied in awake dogs with explanted kidneys and chronic indwelling hepatic vein catheters. After a single injection of bovine PTH 1-84 (b PTH 1-84), hepatic arteriovenous (A-V) differences for i PTH were 39% at 2 min after injection but decreased to 0% by 25 min, despite high levels of i PTH in the arterial circulation. Gel filtration of arterial and hepatic venous samples obtained when hepatic A-V differences for i PTH were demonstrable revealed hepatic uptake of the intact hormone and addition of a smaller COOH terminal fragment, eluting just after the intact hormone, to the hepatic venous blood. Gel filtration of samples obtained 20-30 min after injection of b PTH 1-84 (when no hepatic A-V difference for i PTH was demonstrable) revealed no detectable intact hormone in the circulation. Levels of COOH terminal fragments of the hormone at the time were identical in arterial and hepatic venous samples. In additional experiments no hepatic A-V difference was observed after the injection of the synthetic bovine PTH 1-34 (syn b PTH 1-34). By comparison there was a demonstrable A-V difference of 20% across the kidney for both intact PTH and COOH terminal fragments that persisted until i PTH disappeared from the circulation. The kidney also demonstrated an A-V difference of 22% after injection of syn b PTH 1-34. These studies demonstrate selective extraction of intact PTH but not of its fragments by the liver. The kidney, on the other hand, extracted the intact hormone and both COOH and NH2 terminal fragments. The studies demonstrate that the kidney was the only organ of those examined that detectably removed the fragments of PTH from the circulation.