Previous studies have shown that vasopressin stimulates the mitotic activity in adrenal zona glomerulosa cells in intact as well as in hypophysectomized rats. (Payet and Isler, Cell and Tissue Res. 172, 1976; Payet and Lehoux, J. steroid Biochem. 12, 1980). We now report that this effect is direct and specific, since vasopressin stimulates the mitotic activity of rat adrenal zona glomerulosa cells in primary cultures. These cells were prepared by dissociation with collagenase in the culture medium MEM-d-Valine. Isolated cells were placed in 3.5 diameter petri dishes in MEM-d-valine medium containing 15% fetal calf serum and antibiotics for two days and 5% fetal calf serum for subsequent cultures. The medium was changed at 24 hr intervals. The hormones were added 3 days after the culture was started. The mitogenic effect of vasopressin was found to be dependent both on time and hormone concentrations. Vasopressin (10(-11) M) stimulated thymidine incorporation 4.8 +/- 0.6-fold after 2 days of treatment and 5.3 +/- 1.6-fold after 8 days. When ACTH (10(-11) M) was added together with vasopressin (10(-11) M) the mitogenic effect was enhanced at 6.5 +/- 1.9-fold after 2 days and 12.9 +/- 6.9-fold after 8 days of treatment. The aldosterone and corticosterone outputs were also stimulated by the combined presence of vasopressin and ACTH in the incubation medium; a maximal effect was observed between 6 and 8 days of treatment. Vasopressin (10(-11) M) + ACTH (10(-11) M) stimulated the aldosterone output 7-fold and that of corticosterone by 18-fold. When added alone, vasopressin, as well as ACTH alone had only a small effect on the aldosterone output. However, ACTH alone stimulated the corticosterone output 10-fold. In conclusion, vasopressin is an important and specific growth factor of the adrenal zona glomerulosa cells. In addition, together with ACTH vasopressin stimulates the aldosterone and corticosterone output both in vivo and in vitro in primary cell cultures.