The present study examines the role of vasopressin and the sympathetic nervous system on the hemodynamic effects of an infusion of hypertonic saline (NaCl 1.5 M) in conscious rats. The cardiovascular response to hypertonic saline was similar in both untreated and hexamethonium-pretreated rats. Mean arterial pressure increased by 15 mmHg as a consequence of the elevation of total peripheral resistance, while cardiac index was decreased. The administration of an antagonist to the pressor activity of vasopressin in rats with intact reflexes, partially decreased mean arterial pressure and total peripheral resistance and increased cardiac index toward basal values. In contrast, the hemodynamic response to hypertonic saline was totally reverted when the vasopressin antagonist was injected in the hexamethonium-pretreated rats. The results of the present study indicate that the hypertensive response induced by hypertonic saline in conscious rats is due to the vasoconstrictor effects of both vasopressin and the sympathetic nervous system.