Vanadium (V), a metallic element of the first transition series, is widely distributed in the environment. Although an essential trace element in higher animals, chronic exposure to V is of concern because of its increased concentration near industrial operations, its occurrence in the ash of combustion products of petroleum and coal, and its subsequent biomagnification in the environment. V is found in trace amounts in both terrestrial and aquatic animals and in solution can form inorganic orthovanadate oxyanions that, if absorbed, are eliminated primarily by the kidneys. Because V is often found concentrated in renal tissue to the largest extent in the body, the kidneys may represent a major site of action. Moreover, V in the vanadate configuration increases the urinary excretion of solutes and water in the rat, and inhibits renal organic ion accumulation and renal Na+, K+-ATPase in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, as a nutritionally required element, V may play a regulatory role in salt and water excretion by modification of the Na+ pump in the kidney.