Presystemic signals play an important role in the control of ingestive behavior by allowing animals to anticipate imminent physiological changes. The significance of such signals in the control of food intake has been amply demonstrated and is widely appreciated. Our recent experiments have revealed that presystemic signals also provide important early feedback when rats drink water or NaCl solution, before the ingested fluids are absorbed and influence cerebral osmoreceptors or cardiovascular baroreceptors. These early signals clearly affect vasopressin (VP) secretion and thirst. They relate either to the distension of the stomach and proximal small intestine (presumably mediated by local stretch receptors) or to the concentration of fluid that empties from the stomach into the small intestine (presumably mediated by visceral osmo- or Na(+)-receptors). Dehydrated dogs use functionally comparable signals from the oropharynx while drinking in order to inhibit both VP secretion and thirst. However, that system differs in several respects from the system in rats aside from the fact that the presystemic signals in rats are not oropharyngeal: in rodents, (a) separate early signals influence VP secretion and thirst, (b) early signals can provide both stimulation and inhibition of VP secretion and thirst, and (c) the early signals are associated with both the volume and concentration of ingested fluid. These presystemic signals also inhibit the intake of NaCl solution by rats with salt appetite.