It was reported recently that the endogenous digitalis-like factor ouabain may mainly originate from the adrenal gland. To ascertain the pathophysiological significance of endogenous ouabain and to examine if it originates in the adrenal gland, we determined plasma immunoreactive ouabain levels in patients with various cardiovascular and endocrine diseases. Plasma immunoreactive ouabain levels were also determined in the adrenal venous blood by adrenal venous sampling. Plasma immunoreactive ouabain levels were significantly increased in patients with essential hypertension, primary aldosteronism, Cushing's syndrome, pheochromocytoma, acromegaly, and chronic renal failure. Plasma immunoreactive ouabain levels were decreased in patients with primary aldosteronism after unilateral adrenalectomy, acromegaly after pituitary adenomectomy, and chronic renal failure after hemodialysis. Plasma immunoreactive ouabain levels in patients after bilateral adrenalectomy were similar to those in healthy subjects. There was no significant step-up of immunoreactive ouabain levels in the adrenal vein from the peripheral vein in three patients, whereas one patient with hypertension and right adrenal tumor but without any known adrenal hormone excess showed higher plasma immunoreactive ouabain levels in the right adrenal vein than those in the peripheral vein. These results suggest an important pathophysiological significance of endogenous ouabain in various cardiovascular and endocrine diseases. It is unlikely that the adrenal gland is a major source of plasma ouabain, although a possible excess production of ouabain by the adrenal tumor remains to be elucidated.