Mesenteric artery smooth muscle cells were grown in culture media containing high, normal, or low concentrations of potassium to study the effects on angiotensin II (Ang II) receptor regulation. Cell growth was similar among cells grown in the different culture media. Cells grown in high potassium media (K=5.8 mEq/L) had an equilibrium dissociation constant, Kd, of 1.59 ± 0.2 nM, whereas those grown in normal potassium media (K=4.1 mEq/L) had a Kd of 1.79 ± 0.2 nM and those grown in a low potassium media (K=2.9 mEq/L) had a Kd of 1.19 ± 0.12 nM (not significantly different, NS). Binding capacity of smooth muscle cells grown in high potassium media was 81 ± 16.7 fmol/mg prot, 95.1 ± 12.4 fmol/mg prot in those grown in normal potassium media and those grown in low potassium media 86.4 ± 24.1 fmol/mg prot (NS). Binding of radiolabelled Ang II was reduced by approximately 70% in cells exposed to unlabelled Ang II for 30 or 60 minutes. However, this effect of exposure to Ang II to reduce subsequent binding of Ang II was identical in cells grown in high and low potassium medium. Therefore, we were unable to identify a direct effect of low potassium to induce changes in Ang II receptor binding affinity or binding capacity. Previously observed changes in these Ang II binding parameters in potassium-depleted rats was probably a consequence of other factors which were simultaneously altered by potassium deficiency.