The intracellular pathways for basal atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) secretion from the heart and their correlation with ANF processing to the active form were characterized in cultured neonatal rat atrial and ventricular myocytes. Brefeldin A, a fungal antimetabolite that blocks transport of newly synthesized proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum, was used to inhibit nascent protein trafficking. Thus, release of newly synthesized hormone was blocked, but release of stored hormone was unaffected. Whereas brefeldin A inhibited basal ventricular ANF release to 10% of the control value, basal ANF release from atrial cells was enhanced. Furthermore, basal atrial ANF secretion was inhibited by agents preventing myocyte depolarization, Ca2+ influx, release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores, or activation of protein kinase C, whereas ventricular ANF secretion was unaffected by these agents. Brefeldin A did not alter maturational processing of pro-ANF to ANF-(99–126) in either atrial or ventricular cultures. These findings indicate that (1) basal secretion of ANF from ventricular cells relies largely on newly synthesized hormone and is probably constitutive, (2) basal secretion of ANF from atrial cells is independent of transport of newly synthesized protein and occurs via a regulated pathway controlled at least in part by signaling changes associated with myocyte beating, and (3) processing of pro-ANF occurs either with constitutive or regulated secretion of hormone, which may indicate multiple cellular locations for the processing enzyme.