1. The interrelationship between parasympathetic neural tone, renin secretion and vasopressin release was examined by observing the effect of bilateral cervical vagotomy on renin secretion in intact and acutely hypophysectomized dogs undergoing a water diuresis.
2. In intact dogs bilateral cervical vagotomy decreased the mean renin secretion from 1245 to 682 units/min (P < 0.01) as urinary osmolality increased from 95 to 414 mosmol/kg (P < 0.001). In contrast, in acutely hypophysectomized dogs cervical vagotomy failed to alter renin secretion significantly (834 to 893 units/min) and urinary osmolality was also unchanged (78 to 71 mosmol/kg).
3. The results suggest that a diminution in vagal tone may significantly alter renin secretion by stimulating vasopressin release. Exogenous vasopressin was associated with changes in urinary osmolality and renin secretion which were qualitatively similar to those seen after cervical vagotomy.
4. We suggest that there is a neurohumoral reflex mechanism by which a fall in parasympathetic tone increases the release of vasopressin, which, in turn, suppresses renin secretion. The results are also compatible with the hypothesis that vasopressin inhibits renin release by a direct effect on the juxtaglomerular cells.