Hypernatraemic states are associated with an increased risk of thrombosis. To examine the relative contributions of sodium and vasopressin, we infused hypertonic saline in 11 male volunteers and measured the effect on factor VIII (FVIII), euglobulin clot lysis time (ELT) and fibrinopeptide A (FPA) generation. Samples were taken pre-infusion, hourly during a 3h infusion of 450 ml 6M saline and one hour after the infusion had stopped. Mean plasma osmolality (SEM) rose from 287(0.7) to 302(10) mOsm after 3h (p less than 0.01). Plasma vasopressin concentrations rose from 1.0(0.3) to 4(0.94) pg/ml over 3 hr (p 0.01). Plasminogen activator activity (10(6)/ELT2) rose from 65(10) to 372(55) units (p less than 0.001). There was a highly significant correlation between plasma osmolality and plasminogen activator activity (r = 0.5 p less than 0.0001). FPA generation time shortened from 7.2(0.4) to 5.4(0.6) min after 2h and 5.3(0.6) after 4h (n = 6). Values for FPA after 4 min incubation steadily increased from 5.8(1.2) to 14.3(4.6) pmol/ml during the infusion but differences failed to achieve statistical significance. FVIIIC (1 stage) remained constant at 75(5.5%) during the infusion. There was a small and statistically insignificant increase in FVIII RiCof after 3h and FVIII RAg decreased slightly. The results suggest that hypernatraemia and increasing plasma aVP concentrations produce changes in haemostatic function consistent with a hypercoaguable state. The mechanisms for the effect are unclear. These changes in haemostatic function might contribute to the thrombo-embolic complications of conditions such as hyperosmolar coma in diabetes mellitus or severe heatstroke in which degrees of hypernatraemia occur.