To assess the central effect of hypertonic NaCl on the release of vasopressin (AVP) and methionine enkephalin-like substances into the blood and cerebrospinal fluid, and on blood pressure, ventriculocisternal perfusion (0.25 ml/min, 60 min) was performed in anesthetized dogs with artificial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), either isotonic (300 mosmol/kg) or hypertonic (600 and 1200 mosmol/kg). The effect of central administration of a V1-AVP antagonist on the central osmotic challenge was also studied. In dogs, given 600 mosmol/kg, CSF osmolality increased with a concomitant rise in mean arterial pressure and plasma AVP concentrations. Plasma osmolality, heart rate, CSF AVP and plasma and CSF methionine enkephalin-like substances showed no significant change. In dogs, given 1200 mosmol/kg, the CSF osmolality increase was accompanied by a rise in mean arterial pressure, heart rate, plasma AVP and CSF AVP. Plasma osmolality and plasma and CSF methionine-enkephalinlike substances did not change significantly. A V1-AVP antagonist given centrally attenuated the rise in mean arterial pressure induced by osmotic challenge. In dogs, given 300 mosmol/kg, no parameters changed significantly except for a gradual fall in heart rate. These results suggest that central osmotic stimulation by hypertonic NaCl increases blood pressure, heart rate and the release of AVP, but not methionine enkepholin-like substances, into the blood and CSF, and a V1-blocker given centrally attenuates the pressor response.