Plasma ionic status and renal excretion of acidic equivalents and electrolytes were continuously monitored in the freshwater rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri) during 24 h normoxia (PIO2 = 120-150 torr; control); 72 h hyperoxia (PIO2 = 500-600 torr), and 24 h return to normoxia. Plasma [Cl-] progressively declined in approximate equivalence to the rise in [HCO-3] which compensated the respiratory acidosis of hyperoxia, while [Na+] increased only slightly. [Ca2+] and [K+] rose, [phosphate] declined, and [NH+4] was unchanged. During normoxic recovery, the [Na+], [Cl-] and [HCO-3] changes were reversed, [K+] and [Ca2+] showed further elevations, and [NH+4] increased sharply . Renal acid output increased greatly during hyperoxia with elevations in both NH+4 and titratable components, though the latter predominated due to a marked elevation of phosphate excretion. Renal efflux rates of other electrolytes were generally homeostatic for ECF composition, with increased Na+, K+, and Ca2+ effluxes, and decreased Cl- efflux. Clearance calculations indicated that net tubular reabsorption increased for Cl-, fell for Na+ and K+, and changed over to marked net secretion for phosphate, while net ammonia secretion increased. Most trends were reversed upon return to normoxia. The critical role of phosphate in urinary electrolyte balance and acid-base regulation is emphasized. The net renal excretion of acidic equivalents accounted for only 7-10% of the total compensation observed for the whole animal during hyperoxia. The kidney contributed primarily in conserving ECF HCO-3 and secondarily in balancing branchial exchanges.