Recurrence of Cushing's disease after successful transsphenoidal surgery occurs in some 30% of the patients and the response to desmopressin shortly after surgery has been proposed as a marker for disease recurrence. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the response to desmopressin over time after surgery. We tested 56 patients with Cushing's disease in remission after transsphenoidal surgery with desmopressin for up to 20 years after surgery. The ACTH and cortisol response to desmopressin over time was evaluated in patients on long-term remission or undergoing relapse; an increase by at least 27 pg/mL in ACTH levels identified responders. The vast majority of patients who underwent successful adenomectomy failed to respond to desmopressin after surgery and this response pattern was maintained over time in patients on long-term remission. Conversely, a response to desmopressin reappeared in patients who subsequently developed a recurrence of Cushing's disease, even years prior to frank hypercortisolism. It appears therefore that a change in the response pattern to desmopressin proves predictive of recurrence of Cushing's disease and may indicate which patients require close monitoring.