To study the effects of nonosmotic and nonvolumetric factors that may influence secretion of vasopressin, serum Na+, K+, and osmolality (Osm), hemoglobin, hematocrit, plasma arginine vasopressin (AVP), aldosterone (PA), and renin activity (PRA) were measured in five men and three women (26-50 yr, 73 +/- 4 kg) before and after 24 h of mild dehydration (food but no fluid) and seven times during the 1st h after rehydration with 10 ml/kg of tap water (17.5 +/- 0.5 degrees C) consumed in 105 s (range 35-240 s). Dehydration increased mean serum Na+ 3.7 +/- 0.7 meq/l (P less than 0.05), osmolality 9.1 +/- 1.1 mosmol/kg (P less than 0.05), and AVP from a hydrated level of 1.7 +/- 0.2 to 3.3 +/- 0.5 pg/ml (delta = 1.6 pg/ml, P less than 0.05). After rehydration AVP fell to 2.4 +/- 0.3 pg/ml (P less than 0.05) within 3 min and reached the water-replete level of 1.8 +/- 0.3 pg/ml 9 min after drinking started. Serum Na+ and Osm did not change until 30-60 min after drinking. No significant changes occurred in PRA, hemogloblin, hematocrit, or calculated delta in plasma volume, but PA increased from 11.1 +/- 1.5 ng/dl after dehydration to 15.6 +/- 2.6 ng/dl (P less than 0.05) between 30 and 60 min after drinking. The rapid fall in plasma AVP after rehydration took place in the absence of the expected changes in the primary regulators of plasma AVP (i.e., osmolality and plasma volume), with no change in blood pressure. The results suggest that oropharyngeal factors, alone or combined with gastric stimuli, are implicated.