The aim of this study was to investigate whether the increased diuresis in consequence of hypothermia is due to a depression of the hypothalamic release of antidiuretic hormone (ADH). The plasma concentration of antidiuretic hormone and the effect of intravenous (i.v.) administration of 65 ng kg−1 desmopressin (selective V2-receptor agonist) were determined in the anaesthetized rat. In spite of a 50% (P < 0.001) decrease in glomerular filtration rate, urine flow increased sixfold (P < 0.01) and urine sodium excretion increased sevenfold (P < 0.05), whereas urine osmolality decreased (P < 0.001). At the same time plasma antidiuretic hormone decreased from 7.5 ± 1.1 to 3.8 ± 0.4 pg mL−1 (P = 0.01). After injection of desmopressin urine flow was completely restored, whereas urine osmolality and sodium excretion were only partially normalized. Since tubular conservation of water and fractional water reabsorption decreased during hypothermia, the diuresis must have resulted from an augmented loss of water. This is further supported by the fact that osmolal excretion was not influenced either by hypothermia or by desmopressin. It is concluded that the diuresis in consequence to hypothermia is due both to a decrease in the release of ADH and to a reduction of renal medullary hypertonicity.