It has been demonstrated that the neurohypophysial hormones can be released intrahypothalamically by the paraventricular (PVN) and supraoptic nuclei. The present experiments were undertaken to determine whether a physiological stimulus for vasopressin release, increased plasma osmolality, will stimulate the release of vasopressin by the PVN into the surrounding interstitial fluid, and whether the responses are affected by gender. Intravenous infusion of 2.5 M NaCl for 60 min (0.1 ml.kg-1.min-1) in conscious rats resulted in an increased vasopressin concentration in the dialysate from a microdialysis probe adjacent to the PVN. This response was greater in nonestrous females than in males. On the other hand, the rise in the plasma vasopressin concentration was greater in males than in nonestrous females. Mean arterial blood pressure increased and heart rate decreased, but these responses were not affected by gender. The role of centrally released vasopressin in the control of the peripheral release of vasopressin is conjectural, but both responses may be modulated by the gonadal steroid hormones.