Peptides isolated from atrial extracts possess potent natriuretic and diuretic activities. In general, these peptides, called atrial natriuretic factors (ANFs), oppose the actions of the water-conservatory peptides angiotensin II and vasopressin and are released from the heart in response to atrial stretch as a consequence of increased venous return. The recent description of ANF-like immunoreactivity in brain regions associated with the control of water intake suggested a role for these peptides in the neurogenic mechanisms of thirst. Intracerebroventricular (third ventricle) infusion of 1.0 or 2.0 nmol of ANF in conscious, overnight-dehydrated rats significantly inhibited subsequent water intake over a 2-hr test period. Intravenous infusion of 2.0 nmol, but not 1.0 nmol, of ANF resulted in a similar inhibitory action, suggesting that ANF released from the heart might act centrally to inhibit water intake by an action at one or more of the circumventricular organs. Water intake induced by central infusion of angiotensin II (9.6 and 25 pmol) in normally hydrated rats was significantly inhibited by prior infusion of 2.0 nmol of ANF. Water intake induced by higher doses of angiotensin II was not altered significantly by prior infusion of ANF. These results indicate a possible physiologic role for ANF in the hypothalamic control of water intake and reveal that the cardiac peptides can act centrally, as well as peripherally, to assist in the normalization of extracellular fluid volume.