We have previously demonstrated that dietary NaCl supplementation is associated with increased circulating atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) levels in Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats but not in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), and that replacement with exogenous ANP prevents NaCl-sensitive hypertension in NaCl-sensitive SHR (SHR-S). The current study tested the hypothesis that chronic administration of the neutral endopeptidase (NEP) inhibitor Sch 34826 prevents NaCl sensitive hypertension in SHR-S by increasing endogenous ANP. Male SHR-S received Sch 34826 (90 mg/kg/day) or vehicle by gavage for 4 weeks beginning immediately before the initiation of 1% or 8% NaCl diets at age 7 weeks. Sch 34826 prevented the increase in arterial pressure in response to 8% NaCl in SHR-S, but had no effect on blood pressure in 1% NaCl fed SHR-S; plasma ANP levels were increased by 63 and 68% in the 1% and 8% NaCl groups, respectively, in response to Sch 34826. To examine the mechanism(s) of the antihypertensive effect of Sch 34826 in NaCl-supplemented SHR-S, a single dose (90 mg/kg) of Sch 34826 or vehicle was administered by gavage to SHR-S that had consumed 1% or 8% NaCl diets for 3 weeks. Sch 34826 abolished the NaCl-in- duced increase in blood pressure 3 h after treatment in 8% NaCl fed SHR-S, but had no effect in SHR-S fed the 1% NaCl diet. This effect was associated with increased urine volume and urinary sodium, ANP, and cyclic GMP in 8% NaCl fed SHR-S. These data support the hypothesis that a deficiency in endogenous ANP plays a role in NaCl-sensitive hypertension in SHR-S and confirm that NEP inhibitors have enhanced depressor effects in NaCl- sensitive, volume-dependent forms of hypertension. Am J Hypertens 1992;5:210-218. © 1992 Oxford University Press.