Water is an essential nutrient required for life. To be well hydrated, the average sedentary adult man must consume at least 2,900 mL (12 c) fluid per day, and the average sedentary adult woman at least 2,200 mL (9 c) fluid per day, in the form of noncaffeinated, nonalcoholic beverages, soups, and foods. Solid foods contribute approximately 1,000 mL (4 c) water, with an additional 250 mL (1 c) coming from the water of oxidation. The Nationwide Food Consumption Surveys indicate that a portion of the population may be chronically mildly dehydrated. Several factors may increase the likelihood of chronic, mild dehydration, including a poor thirst mechanism, dissatisfaction with the taste of water, common consumption of the natural diuretics caffeine and alcohol, participation in exercise, and environmental conditions. Dehydration of as little as 2% loss of body weight results in impaired physiological and performance responses. New research indicates that fluid consumption in general and water consumption in particular can have an effect on the risk of urinary stone disease; cancers of the breast, colon, and urinary tract; childhood and adolescent obesity; mitral valve prolapse; salivary gland function; and overall health in the elderly. Dietitians should be encouraged to promote and monitor fluid and water intake among all of their clients and patients through education and to help them design a fluid intake plan. The influence of chronic mild dehydration on health and disease merits further research.