Vasopressin, a neurohypophyseal peptide hormone, is the endogenous agonist at V1a, V1b and V2 receptors. The most important physiological function of vasopressin is the maintenance of water homeostasis through interaction with V2 receptors in the kidney. Vasopressin and related compounds are used in various clinical settings such as acute variceal bleeding associated with portal hypertension, septic shock, diabetes insipidus and coagulation disorders. The effect in the former two indications relates to the V1a receptor, and in the two latter indications the effect relates to the V2 receptor. Vasopressin and related compounds have demonstrated activity in animal models of portal hypertension, sepsis and septic shock, diabetes insipidus and coagulation disorders. The use of the compounds in animal models is reviewed. Generally, the effect of vasopressin and related compounds in animal models reflect the activity in the clinical setting, but in some cases important species differences exist.