The present study was carried out to assess the influence of noradrenergic stimulation of the midbrain dorsal (DRN) and median raphe nuclei (MRN) on urinary volume and electrolyte excretion in hydrated rats. Wistar rats were implanted with a guide cannula into the MRN or DRN and then submitted to two intragastric administrations of water in order to attain an increased diuresis. The following treatments were performed. (1) Intra-DRN microinjections of saline (0.2 microl), alpha(1)-adrenergic agonist phenylephrine (PHE, 0.49 and 4.9 nmol in 0.2 microl), alpha(2)-adrenergic antagonist idazoxan (IDZ, 0.42 and 4.2 nmol in 0.2 microl) or the alpha(1)-adrenergic antagonist prazosin (PRZ, 0.24 and 2.4 nmol in 0.2 microl). (2) Intra-MRN microinjections of saline, IDZ (4.2 nmol in 0.2 microl), PHE (4.9 nmol in 0.2 microl) or PRZ (2.4 nmol in 0.2 microl). Urine samples were subsequently collected over 120 min at 20 min intervals for photometric measurement of sodium and potassium. Intra-DRN administration of PHE and IDZ significantly increased the urinary volume, natriuresis and kaliuresis. Intra-DRN microinjection of a higher dose of PRZ reduced the urinary volume and both sodium and potassium excretion. Intra-MRN microinjections of PHE, IDZ or PRZ did not induce any significant effect on urinary volume or electrolyte excretion. These data suggest that the increase of tonic excitatory noradrenergic input conveyed to DRN influences the hydroelectrolyte homeostasis, possibly through 5-HTergic circuitry.