1. A direct action of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) upon human kidney was sought by measurement of renal adenylate cyclase in tissue homogenates and plasma membranes isolated from tissue samples excised for therapeutic reasons. 2. VIP (1 microM) produced a mean stimulation of adenylate cyclase activity of 3.5-fold compared to basal values in cortical plasma membranes; comparative stimulations of 2.8-fold and 27.3-fold were obtained with 1 microM-glucagon and 1 microM-h(1-34) parathyroid hormone respectively. 3. Half-maximal stimulation of human renal cortical plasma membrane adenylate cyclase was observed with a mean value of 35 nM-VIP. 4. The stimulation of renal adenylate cyclase by VIP appeared to be specific because stimulation by glucagon was additive to that obtained with VIP, and the VIP receptor antagonist (4 Cl-D-Phe6, Leu17)-VIP inhibited the VIP-dependent stimulation of adenylate cyclase activity.