Abstract The effects of hypotonic media on extracellular free amino acid levels were studied ‘in vivo’ in the rat dentate gyrus by means of the brain dialysis technique. Extracellular taurine levels increased specifically during perfusions with Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate in which the NaCl concentration was reduced by 25 or 50 mmol/l (hypotonic solutions). These taurine increases were markedly reduced in the presence of furosemide. With further NaCl reductions the enhanced taurine levels remained stable, whereas other amino acids such as glutamate started in increase in a dose-dependent manner. Isoosmolar replacement of NaCl by sucrose did not affect extracellular amino acid levels. These results indicate the possible involvement of taurine in osmoregulatory processes in the brain.