The effects of stressful environmental stimuli on urinary sodium excretion in conscious dogs, rats, and humans are reviewed. Environmental stress can increase sympathetic neural outflow and decrease sodium excretion. The antinatriuretic response to environmental stress is accompanied by an unchanged renal blood flow and glomerular filtration rate, which indicates mediation via an increased renal tubular sodium reabsorption. The antinatriuresis resulting from environmental stress is associated with increased renal sympathetic nerve activity, and is abolished by surgical renal denervation. In the central nervous system, but not in the kidney, beta adrenoceptors mediate the increased renal sympathetic nerve activity and antinatriuretic responses to environmental stress. The increased renal sympathetic nerve activity and antinatriuretic responses to environmental stress are greater in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) than in normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats. In SHR, but not WKY rats, the increased renal sympathetic nerve activity and antinatriuretic responses are enhanced by a high-sodium diet. Similarly, stressful competition in human young adult males results in an antinatriuresis only if a positive family history of hypertension is present. Thus, environmental stress can increase renal tubular sodium reabsorption via a central beta-adrenoceptor mechanism with activation of the renal sympathetic nerves in both conscious dogs and SHR. The antinatriuretic response to environmental stress is greater in rats and humans with a genetic predisposition to develop hypertension.