To better understand how desert rodents adapt to water scarcity, we examined urine osmolality, renal distribution and expression of aquaporins (AQPs) in Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus) during 7 days of water deprivation (WD). Urine osmolality of the gerbils during WD averaged 7503 mOsm kg(-1). Renal distributions of AQP1, AQP2, and AQP3 were similar to that described in other rodents. After the 7 day WD, renal AQP2 was up-regulated, while resting metabolic rate and total evaporative water loss decreased by 43% and 36%, respectively. Our data demonstrated that Mongolian gerbils showed high urine concentration, renal AQPs expression and body water conservation to cope with limited water availability, which may be critical for their survival during dry seasons in cold deserts.