Water balance depends essentially on fluid intake and urine excretion. Mild dehydration and the consequent hypertonicity of the extracellular fluid induce an increase in vasopressin secretion, thus stimulating urine concentrating processes and the feeling of thirst. The osmotic threshold for the release of vasopressin is lower than that for thirst and also shows appreciable individual variation. Sustained high levels of vasopressin and low hydration induce morphological and functional changes in the kidney. However, they could also be risk factors in several renal disorders, such as chronic renal failure, diabetic nephropathy and salt-sensitive hypertension.