The objectives of this study were to characterize the pattern of pulsatile urea excretion in the gulf toadfish in the wake of exogenous cortisol loading and to determine the receptors involved in the regulation of this mechanism. Toadfish were fitted with indwelling arterial catheters and were infused with isosmotic NaCl for 48 h after which fish were treated with cortisol alone, cortisol + peanut oil, cortisol + RU486 (a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist) or cortisol + spironolactone (a mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist). Upon cortisol loading, fish treated with cortisol alone, cortisol + oil or cortisol + spironolactone experienced a two- to threefold reduction in pulsatile urea excretion. This reduction was due to a decrease in urea pulse size with no effect on pulse frequency compared to values measured during the control NaCl infusion period. In addition, these fish showed an increase in plasma urea concentrations upon treatment. These apparent effects of cortisol treatment were abolished in fish treated with cortisol + RU486. In contrast, these fish showed an increase in pulsatile urea excretion mediated by a twofold increase in pulse size with no change in frequency. Likewise, fish treated with cortisol + RU486 showed a significant decrease in plasma urea concentrations over the course of the experiment. The findings of this study indicate that high levels of cortisol reduce pulsatile urea excretion by decreasing pulse size. In addition, it appears that glucocorticoid receptors and not mineralocorticoid receptors are involved in the regulation of the toadfish pulsatile urea excretion mechanism.