This is the first of a 2-part series. This article reviews the relationships among diuretics, neurohormonal activation, renal function, fluid and Na management, the cardiorenal syndrome, and heart failure. Part II will describe novel therapies based on these relationships, focusing particularly on vasopressin antagonists and treatment using hypertonic saline solution with high-dose loop diuretics. Heart failure (HF) is a complex hemodynamic disorder characterized by chronic and progressive pump failure and fluid accumulation. Diuretics are a vital component of symptomatic management, and enhancing diuretic response in the setting of diuretic resistance is therefore pivotal. In HF patients treated with diuretics, compensatory pathophysiologic mechanisms to maintain vascular resistance, such as nonosmotic stimulation of vasopressin secretion and activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and sympathetic nervous system, promote renal Na and water reabsorption. Thus, there remains a need to develop novel therapies for HF patients who are refractory to conventional medical treatment. The conflicting results of diuretic treatments in HF and the importance of Na management in the context of the cardiorenal syndrome and neurohormonal activation have suggested novel and counterintuitive strategies, focusing primarily on the use of vasopressin antagonists and hypertonic saline solution with high doses of loop diuretics and neurohormonal interference. The authors review the current evidence for these therapies and suggest hypothetical bases for their efficacy.