Angiotensin-I generating activity has been detected in homogenates of arterial tissue but it remains unclear whether this enzymatic activity results from the presence of renin itself or from the action of other proteases such as cathepsin D. In an assay system employing anephric dog plasma as substrate and buffered to pH 7.4, we detected angiotensin-I generating activity in homogenates of canine aortic smooth muscle cells. This enzymatic activity was in large part inhibitable by renin-specific antisera raised to pure canine renal renin. Immunofluorescent study of cultured arterial smooth muscle cells was also performed using renin specific antiserum. Granular cytoplasmic immunofluorescence was detected when specific antirenin serum was used but not when preimmune serum was employed. The addition of pure canine renin to the renin antiserum during staining suppressed the granular immunofluorescence confirming the specificity of staining. Finally, biosynthetic radiolabelling studies were performed. Immunoprecipitation of newly synthesized proteins with antirenin serum and staphylococcal protein A followed by gel electrophoresis and autoradiography demonstrated the synthesis of an immunoreactive protein with the molecular weight of renin. Pretreatment of the antirenin serum with pure canine renin resulted in the disappearance of this immunoreactive protein band. Thus these studies provide multiple lines of evidence to indicate the insitu synthesis of renin by vascular smooth muscle cells.