The regulation of both arginine vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin secretion was studied during rapid and prolonged osmotic stimuli in normal adult volunteers. In five subjects given an intravenous infusion of 0·85 mol NaCl/l at 0·05 ml/kg per min over 2 h there was a significant (P<0·05) rise only in plasma AVP, with no significant change in plasma levels of oxytocin. In six further subjects 5 days of restriction to 500 ml fluid daily resulted in significant increases of both plasma and 24-h urinary AVP, whereas there was no change in corresponding oxytocin levels. During another 5-day period in which the same subjects were given an additional 200 mmol sodium as well as having their fluid intake restricted to 1000 ml daily, there were again significant rises in plasma and 24 h urinary AVP with no change in corresponding oxytocin levels. We conclude that, in man, AVP is selectively secreted in response to both dehydration and high sodium intake, whilst even after the stimulus of rapidly increasing plasma osmolality during intravenous infusion of hypertonic saline the rise in oxytocin is not statistically significant. It therefore appears unlikely that oxytocin has a significant role in the physiological control of fluid balance in man.