✓ Plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of endothelin (ET)-1, ET-3, and big ET-1 in patients with aneurysmal rupture were measured serially for 2 weeks after the onset of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and compared with levels of ETs in patients without SAH and the plasma concentrations of ETs in normal volunteers. Big ET-1 was the predominant peptide present in the CSF of SAH patients. The CSF concentrations of big ET-1, ET-1, and ET-3 were significantly higher in older patients than in younger patients. In SAH patients with cerebral vasospasm (CVS) documented by transcranial Doppler sonography and clinical signs, postoperative concentrations of ETs in the CSF remained at or were increased above levels measured before surgery. In SAH patients without CVS, the concentrations of ETs in the CSF decreased with time, whereas the time course of CVS coincided with the increase in concentrations of big ET-1 and ET-1. The temporal dependence of concentrations of big ET-1 and ET-1 in SAH patients with and without CVS were significantly different. The volume of hematoma in the basal cisterns as detected by computerized tomography was predictive of the concentrations of ETs in the CSF. Plasma concentrations of ETs were not correlated wtih CVS. The possible role of ETs in the pathogenesis of CVS associated with SAH and the controversial data reported to date are discussed.