The clinical and neuroendocrine response to diuretic treatment was assessed at rest and on exercise in 12 patients with heart failure. Before treatment all patients were limited by breathlessness on exercise; one was oedematous. Plasma renin activity and aldosterone were normal but plasma noradrenaline was raised both at rest and on exercise. After one month's treatment with frusemide (40 mg) and amiloride (5 mg) weight was significantly reduced by a mean of 3.5 kg and exercise capacity had doubled. Plasma noradrenaline fell to normal at rest but remained abnormally raised on exercise. Plasma renin activity and aldosterone increased significantly both at rest and on exercise. Diuretics bring about a considerable clinical improvement in patients with chronic heart failure but they stimulate the renin-angiotensin system. Activation of the renin-angiotensin system in moderate heart failure occurs as a response to diuretic treatment rather than as a result of the disease process itself.