Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) upregulation are genetic markers for the chronic hypertrophic phenotype but also have important acute physiologic effects on salt and water balance and blood pressure control. The presence of a dual NP-system led us to hypothesize a differential expression of ANP and BNP in response to an acute hemodynamic stress of volume overload in the left ventricle (LV) and right ventricle (RV). Accordingly, we examined the temporal relationship between the RV and LV expression of ANP and BNP mRNA and NP receptor mRNA levels on days 1, 2, 3, and 7 after induction of aortocaval fistula in the rat. LV end-diastolic pressure was increased 1.5-fold by day 3 and 2.0-fold by day 7 compared to control (P < 0.05). LV weight increased by day 7 compared to control (2.34 ± 0.04 vs 3.07 ± 0.10 mg/g, P < 0.05) while RV weight did not change over the 7 days. There was a 7-fold increase of ANP mRNA in LV at day 1, which was sustained through day 7, while LV BNP mRNA levels did not differ from controls over the 7 days. In contrast, RV mRNA transcript levels for ANP and BNP were increased > 2-fold by day 2 and this increase was sustained throughout 7 days. NP clearance receptor was decreased by 75% by day 7 in the LV but did not change in the RV. Thus, LV ANP mRNA levels increased before the onset of LV hypertrophy and RV BNP mRNA levels increased in the absence of RV hypertrophy. The disparate response of BNP and the NP clearance receptor transcript levels in the LV and RV may be related to differences in load and/or differential expression of the NP system in the LV and RV in response to acute haemodynamic stress.