Inadequate secretion of vasopressin during fluid removal by hemodialysis may contribute to the cardiovascular instability that complicates this therapy and administration of exogenous hormone, by supporting arterial pressure, may facilitate volume removal. To test this, we measured plasma vasopressin in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) during hemodialysis and found that despite significant fluid removal, plasma vasopressin concentration did not increase. We further found that ESRD did not alter the endogenous removal rate of plasma vasopressin and that plasma hormone is not dialyzed. Finally, in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial in 22 hypertensive patients, we examined the effect of a constant infusion of a non-pressor dose of vasopressin on the arterial pressure response during a hemodialysis in which the target fluid loss was increased by 0.5 kg over the baseline prescription. We found that arterial pressure was more stable in the patients receiving vasopressin and that while only one patient (9%) in the vasopressin group had a symptomatic hypotensive episode, 64% of the patients receiving placebo had such an episode (P=0.024). Moreover, increased fluid removal was achieved only in the vasopressin group (520+/-90 ml vs 64+/-130 ml, P=0.01). Thus, administration of non-pressor doses of vasopressin to hypertensive subjects improves cardiovascular stability during hemodialysis and allows increased removal of excess extracellular fluid. Inadequate vasopressin secretion during hemodialysis-induced fluid removal is a likely contributor to the intradialytic hypotension that limits fluid removal.