Vasopressin is one of the key regulators of the body's water and solute balance. When this balance is pathologically disturbed, determination of serum vasopressin concentrations might be a helpful tool for guiding therapy. However, due to its instability and considerable association to platelets, reliable measurement of circulating vasopressin is difficult to achieve, if at all. In search of a more robust way for quantifying vasopressin release, we identified copeptin, a glycopeptide with unknown function, as an alternative diagnostic target. Since copeptin is derived from the same precursor peptide as vasopressin, released amounts of copeptin should mirror those of vasopressin. With a newly developed sensitive sandwich immunoassay, we detected strongly elevated concentrations of fully processed copeptin in serum of septic shock patients. The magnitude of elevation and the high stability of copeptin in serum and plasma indicate that copeptin measurement is not affected by the problems, which are associated with the direct measurement of vasopressin, and thus is apparently suitable to indirectly determine the release of vasopressin.