Collecting duct cells swell when exposed to arginine vasopressin (AVP) in the presence of a transepithelial osmolality gradient. We investigated the mechanisms of AVP-induced cell swelling in isolated, perfused rat inner medullary collecting ducts (IMCDs) using quantitative video microscopy and fluorescence-based measurements of transepithelial water transport. We tested the roles of transepithelial water flow, basolateral solute entry, and the cytoskeleton (actomyosin). When a transepithelial osmolality gradient was imposed by addition of NaCl to the bath, AVP significantly increased both water flux and cell height. When the osmolality gradient was imposed by addition of mannitol, AVP increased water flux but not cell height, suggesting that AVP-induced cell swelling requires a NaCl gradient and is not merely dependent on the associated water flux. Bumetanide (Na-K-2Cl cotransporter inhibitor) added to the bath markedly diminished the AVP-induced cell height increase. AVP-induced cell swelling was absent in IMCDs from NKCC1-knockout mice. In rat IMCDs, replacement of Na, K, or Cl in the peritubular bath caused significant cell shrinkage, consistent with a basolateral solute transport pathway dependent on all three ions. Immunocytochemistry using an antibody to NKCC1 confirmed basolateral expression in IMCD cells. The conventional nonmuscle myosin II inhibitor blebbistatin also diminished the AVP-induced cell height increase and cell shape change, consistent with a role for the actin cytoskeleton and myosin II. We conclude that the AVP-induced cell height increase is dependent on basolateral solute uptake via NKCC1 and changes in actin organization via myosin II, but is not dependent specifically on increased apical water entry.