The mechanisms of uptake of parathyroid hormone (PTH) by the kidney was studied in anesthetized dogs before and after ureteral ligation. During constant infusion of bovine PTH (b-PTH 1-84), the renal arteriovenous (A-V) difference for immunoreactive PTH (i-PTH) was 22±2%. After ureteral ligation and no change in renal plasma flow, A-V i-PTH fell to 15±1% (P <0.01), indicating continued and significant uptake of i-PTH at peritubular sites and a lesser role of glomerular filtration (GF) in the renal uptake of i-PTH. Since, under normal conditions, minimal i-PTH appears in the final urine, the contribution of GF and subsequent tubular reabsorption was further examined in isolated perfused dog kidneys before and after inhibition of tubular reabsorption by potassium cyanide. Urinary i-PTH per 100 ml GF rose from 8±4 ng/min (control) to 170±45 ng/min after potassium cyanide. Thus, i-PTH is normally filtered and reabsorbed by the tubular cells. The physiological role of these two mechanisms of renal PTH uptake was examined by giving single injections of b-PTH 1-84 or synthetic b-PTH 1-34 in the presence of established ureteral ligation. After injection of b-PTH 1-84, renal A-V i-PTH was 20% only while biologically active intact PTH was present (15-20 min). No peritubular uptake of carboxyl terminal PTH fragments was demonstrable. In contrast, after injection of synthetic b-PTH 1-34, renal extraction of N-terminal i-PTH after ureteral ligation (which was 13.4±0.6% vs. 19.6±0.9% in controls) continued for as long as i-PTH persisted in the circulation. These studies indicate that both GF and peritubular uptake are important mechanisms for renal PTH uptake. Renal uptake of carboxyl terminal fragments of PTH is dependent exclusively upon GF and tubular reabsorption, whereas peritubular uptake can only be demonstrated for biologically active b-PTH 1-84 and synthetic b-PTH 1-34.