The effect of chronic (35 days) and selective sodium or chloride depletion on the regulation of angiotensin II receptors in the anterior pituitary gland of young male rats was studied by quantitative autoradiography. Both chronic sodium or chloride depletion produced significant extracellular fluid volume contraction, stimulation of the circulating renin-angiotensin system and increased the number of angiotensin II receptors in the anterior pituitary gland. Changes in angiotensin II receptors in both sodium- and chloride-depleted animals were associated with increased plasma prolactin levels. Our results suggest a participation of the pituitary renin-angiotensin system in the physiological response and/or possible adaptation to chronic sodium or chloride depletion. Extracellular fluid volume contraction and profound chronic stimulation of the circulating renin-angiotensin system may contribute to regulate anterior pituitary angiotensin II receptors and may influence prolactin release.