Arterial blood pressure can often fall too low during dehydration, leading to an increased incidence of orthostatic hypotension and syncope. Systemic sympathoexcitation and increases in volume regulatory hormones such as angiotensin II (AngII) may help to maintain arterial pressure in the face of decreased plasma volume. Our goals in the present study were to quantify muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) during dehydration (DEH), and to test the hypothesis that endogenous increases in AngII in DEH have a mechanistic role in DEH-associated sympathoexcitation. We studied 17 subjects on two separate study days: DEH induced by 24 h fluid restriction and a euhydrated (EUH) control day. MSNA was measured by microneurography at the peroneal nerve, and arterial blood pressure, electrocardiogram, and central venous pressure were also recorded continuously. Sequential nitroprusside and phenylephrine (modified Oxford test) were used to evaluate baroreflex control of MSNA. Losartan (angiotensin type 1 receptor (AT1) antagonist) was then administered and measurements were repeated. MSNA was elevated during DEH (42 +/- 5 vs. EUH: 32 +/- 4 bursts per 100 heartbeats, P = 0.02). Blockade of AT1 receptors partially reversed this change in MSNA during DEH while having no effect in the control EUH condition. The sensitivity of baroreflex control of MSNA was unchanged during DEH compared to EUH. We conclude that endogenous increases in AngII during DEH contribute to DEH-associated sympathoexcitation.