To test the hypothesis that expression of atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP)-receptor genes is modified to provide a compensatory mechanism against hypoxic pulmonary hypertension, steady state mRNA levels for the ANP-A receptor (or guanylate cyclase-A; ANPAR), ANP-B receptor (or guanylate cyclase-B; ANPBR), and ANP-clearance receptor (ANPCR) were quantitated by Northern blot and slot-blot analysis in lung, kidney, spleen, and liver of hypoxia-adapted rats and air controls. Exposure of rats to short-term (48 h) and chronic (4 wk) hypoxia (10% O2, 1 atm) did not affect lung ANPAR-mRNA levels. Lung ANPBR-mRNA levels were unchanged by short-term hypoxia but selectively increased (approximately twofold) by chronic hypoxia. ANPCR-mRNA levels were selectively and significantly downregulated by 48-h and 4-wk hypoxia in lung but were unchanged or upregulated in other tissues. Lung ANPCR gene transcription, assessed by nuclear-runoff analysis, was decreased by hypoxia. These data support the conclusion that altered pulmonary ANP-receptor gene expression modulates the development of hypoxic pulmonary hypertension.