In target epithelia, a vasopressin-induced water permeability increase is accompanied by the appearance of intramembranous particle (IMP) clusters, probably representing water-permeable patches, in the apical plasma membrane of responding cells. In the collecting duct principal cell, we have previously shown that these clusters are located in clathrin-coated pits. To determine whether vasopressin induces the endocytic uptake of these membrane domains in principal cells, we have examined the uptake of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) by principal cells of normal rats, vasopressin-deficient Brattleboro rats, and vasopressin-treated Brattleboro rats, following intravenous injection of HRP. By quantitative electron microscopy, principal cells of Brattleboro homozygous rats were found to take up much less HRP into cytoplasmic vesicles than normal rats, and HRP uptake was increased to normal levels in vasopressin-treated Brattleboro rats. Many invaginating coated pits at the cell surface were loaded with HRP reaction product, indicating their participation in the observed endocytosis of HRP. We conclude that vasopressin stimulates endocytosis in collecting duct principal cells. Since we have already shown that IMP clusters are found in coated pits at the cell surface, the endocytic removal of these putative water-permeable patches from the apical membrane seems to occur via a clathrin-mediated mechanism in this tissue.