The administration of corticosterone for 5 consecutive days to normal rats on a standard sodium intake induced negative sodium and water balance. These effects were opposite those observed under DOCA treatment. However, not only under DOCA but also under corticosterone treatment extracellular fluid volume (ECFV) and plasma volume (PV) increased, and blood pressure (BP) rose in parallel. Plasma renin and angiotensin II concentrations declined under the influence of both steroids. Plasma arginine vasopressin concentrations increased under DOCA, whereas they transiently decreased under corticosterone administration. These data suggest that the common mediator for BP elevation due to steroid excess would be an increase in ECFV and PV. The pathways by which this increase is achieved seem to be different. Under DOCA treatment ECFV and PV increased subsequent to renal sodium and water retention. Under corticosterone, however, sodium and water were shifted from intra- to extracellular compartments, and a fraction of this shifted sodium and water was conserved in extracellular space, most likely because corticosterone also affected renal sodium handling.