Vasopressin induces a concentration-dependent increase in atriopeptin immunoreactivity in plasma. Rat plasma, rat atrial extract, and synthetic atriopeptin III (APIII) produced parallel displacement curves of iodine-125-labeled APIII binding to specific antiserum. Fractionation of plasma atriopeptin immunoreactivity by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography showed that the major portion consists of two species of low molecular weight peptides in a ratio of 10 to 1. Both peaks exhibited potent vasorelaxant activity, suggesting the presence of the carboxyl terminal Phe-Arg sequence of atriopeptin in each species. Sequence determination of the purified peptides indicated that the major peptide is Ser-Leu-Arg-Arg-APIII and the minor peptide APIII. It appears that the former is the major species of atrial peptide in the rat circulation and that it is the product of selective cleavage of the high molecular weight precursor.