Maintaining tight control over body fluid and acid-base homeostasis is essential for human health and is a major function of the kidney. The collecting duct is a mosaic of two cell populations that are highly specialized to perform these two distinct processes. The antidiuretic hormone vasopressin (VP) and its receptor, the V2R, play a central role in regulating the urinary concentrating mechanism by stimulating accumulation of the aquaporin 2 (AQP2) water channel in the apical membrane of collecting duct principal cells. This increases epithelial water permeability and allows osmotic water reabsorption to occur. An understanding of the basic cell biology/physiology of AQP2 regulation and trafficking has informed the development of new potential treatments for diseases such as nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, in which the VP/V2R/AQP2 signaling axis is defective. Tubule acidification due to the activation of intercalated cells is also critical to organ function, and defects lead to several pathological conditions in humans. Therefore, it is important to understand how these "professional" proton-secreting cells respond to environmental and cellular cues. Using epididymal proton-secreting cells as a model system, we identified the soluble adenylate cyclase (sAC) as a sensor that detects luminal bicarbonate and activates the vacuolar proton-pumping ATPase (V-ATPase) via cAMP to regulate tubular pH. Renal intercalated cells also express sAC and respond to cAMP by increasing proton secretion, supporting the hypothesis that sAC could function as a luminal sensor in renal tubules to regulate acid-base balance. This review summarizes recent advances in our understanding of these fundamental processes.