Objectives. This study examined the relation between neurohumoral activation and severity of left ventricular dysfunction and congestive heart failure in a broad group of patients with depressed left ventricular function who were not recruited on the basis of eligibility for a therapeutic trial. Background. Previous studies have established the presence of neurohumoral activation in patients with severe congestive heart failure. It is not known whether the activation of these neurohumoral mechanisms is related to an impairment in left ventricular function. Methods. From the 6,273 patients recruited into the Studies of Left Ventricular Dysfunction Registry (SOLVD), a subgroup of 859 patients were randomly selected, and their plasma norepinephrine, plasma renin activity, arginine vasopressin and atrial natriuretic peptide levels were correlated with clinical findings, New York Heart Association functional class, left ventricular ejection fraction and drug use. Results. There was a weak but significant correlation between ejection fraction and an increase in plasma norepinephrine (rho = -0.18, p < 0.0001), plasma renin activity (rho = -0.24, p < 0.0001) and arginine vasopressin (rho = -0.12, p < 0.003). The only exception was atrial natriuretic peptide, which showed the best correlation to ejection fraction (rho = -0.37, p < 0.0001). Deterioration in functional class was associated more with increases in atrial natriuretic peptide (p = 0.0003) and plasma renin activity (p = 0.0003) and less with an increase in plasma norepinephrine. Of the clinical variables, elevated jugular venons pressure and third heart sound (S3) gallop were significantly associated with increased levels of plasma norepinephrine, plasma renin activity and atrial natriuretic peptide. We then compared the relation of neurohormones with clinical signs, functional status, ejection fraction and drag therapy and controlled for mutual interactive effects. After adjustment, a decrease in ejection fraction was still significantly related to an increase in plasma norepinephrine, plasma renin activity and atrial natriuretic peptide. In contrast, only a difference between functional classes I and III/IV was associated with an increase in plasma renin activity and atrial natriuretic peptide levels. Conclusions. Neurohumoral activation in patients with heart failure is related to severity of left ventricular functional depression, and this relation is independent of functional class or concomitant drug therapy. © 1984.