The present study examined the effects of endothelin-1 on phosphoinositide hydrolysis, diacylglycerol formation, and the induction of myocardial cell hypertrophy utilizing a well characterized cultured neonatal rat myocardial cell model. In this system, a hypertrophic response can be assessed by increases in myocardial cell size, an increase in the assembly of an individual contractile protein (myosin light chain-2) into organized contractile units, accumulation of contractile proteins, the activation of a program of immediate early gene expression, and the induction of genes encoding contractile and embryonic proteins (Iwaki, K., Sukhatme, V., Shubeita, H.E., Chien, K.R., (1990) J. Biol. Chem. 265, 13809-13817). Utilizing these criteria, the present study documents that stimulation with endothelin-1 can produce myocardial cell hypertrophy, induce the expression and release of ANF in ventricular cells, and can activate the transcription of cardiac-specific genes. In addition, endothelin-1 stimulates phosphoinositide hydrolysis and the accumulation of diacylglycerol. It is proposed that endothelin-1 stimulation may represent an important paracrine mechanism for the in vivo regulation of cardiac growth and hypertrophy.