We have tested the hypothesis that animals with reduced levels of arginine vasopressin (AVP) would show reduced tolerance to ethanol. Brattleboro rats either heterozygous or homozygous for the diabetes insipidus (DI) trait and normal Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to ethanol vapor for 21 days. Two days later, tolerance was evaluated by monitoring body temperature reductions after intraperitoneal injection of 2 g/kg (20% w/v) ethanol. Under the same conditions of chronic ethanol exposure, Sprague-Dawley rats, but not Brattleboro rats, displayed tolerance to the hypothermic effects of intraperitoneal ethanol. This phenomenon did not appear to be related to differences in ethanol metabolism or blood alcohol levels in Brattleboro rats. These data support a possible role for AVP in the development or maintenance of tolerance.