Apelin, a neuropeptide recently identified as the endogenous ligand for the G protein-coupled receptor APJ, is highly concentrated in brain structures involved in the control of body fluid homeostasis including the supraoptic (SON) and paraventricular (PVN) hypothalamic nuclei. To clarify the implication of apelin in the regulation of water balance, we sought to determine whether apelin colocalized with arginine vasopressin (AVP) in the rat SON and PVN. We also investigated the effects of water deprivation on the levels of apelin within these two nuclei by comparison with those of AVP. Using dual immunolabeling confocal microscopy, we found that a large proportion of apelin-immunoreactive neurons colocalized AVP within both the SON and PVN, but that the two peptides were segregated within distinct subcellular compartments inside these cells. Both the number and labeling intensity of magnocellular apelin-immunoreactive cells increased significantly after 24- or 48-h dehydration, whereas the number and labeling density of AVP-immunoreactive neurons significantly decreased. The dehydration-induced increase in apelin immunoreactivity was markedly diminished by central injection of a selective vasopressin-1 receptor antagonist. Conversely, the effect of dehydration was mimicked by a 16-min intracerebroventricular infusion of AVP, again in a vasopressin-1 receptor antagonist-reversible manner. These results provide additional evidence for the involvement of the neuropeptide apelin in the control of body fluid homeostasis. They further suggest that the dehydration-induced release of AVP from magnocellular hypothalamic neurons may be responsible for the observed increase in immunoreactive apelin levels within the same neurons and thus that the release of one peptide may block that of another peptide synthesized in the same cells.