1. The effects of 4–6 h of water immersion on the renal excretion of water and electrolytes were studied in thirteen normal male subjects in balance on a constant diet containing 150 mEq of Na and 100 mEq of K per day. Each subject was studied during a control period, consisting of quiet sitting, and during water immersion to the neck.
2. Immersion resulted in a natriuresis beginning within the first hour, with the rate of sodium excretion eventually exceeding that of the control period by 3–4-fold; potassium excretion also increased. Despite a progressively negative water balance during the immersion studies, urine flow was greater during the first 4 h and free water clearance was greater during the first 2 h of immersion than during the control study.
3. The demonstration of a highly significant increase in fractional excretion of sodium during immersion suggests that the natriuresis of water immersion is not attributable to changes in filtered sodium load.
4. The prompt onset of the natriuresis, the concomitant kaliuresis and the fact that aldosterone secretion under the conditions of study was probably already suppressed make it unlikely that the natriuresis of water immersion is mediated solely by decreases in aldosterone activity.
5. The data suggest that the natriuresis caused by water immersion is the result of decreased fractional reabsorption of sodium proximal to the renal diluting site. The mechanism whereby increased proximal tubular sodium rejection occurs in relation to immersion remains unclear.