Nociceptin, the endogenous ligand of the inhibitory G protein-coupled opioid receptor-like 1 receptor, produces aquaresis (i.e., increases the excretion of solute-free urine) in rats. However, the mechanism underlying this effect has not yet been explained. Using immunohistochemistry, we found the opioid receptor-like 1 receptor in the rat kidney colocalized with the vasopressin-regulated water channel aquaporin-2 in inner medullary collecting ducts. We investigated the aquaretic effect of opioid receptor-like 1 receptor stimulation by infusing the selective nociceptin analog ZP120C; volume depletion was prevented by computer-driven, servo-controlled intravenous volume replacement with 50 mM glucose. ZP120C induced a marked and sustained aquaresis in normal and congestive heart failure rats in the absence of changes in vasopressin plasma concentrations. The ZP120C-induced aquaresis was associated with downregulation of the aquaporin-2 protein level in both rat groups, suggesting that opioid receptor-like 1 receptor stimulation produces aquaresis by inhibiting the vasopressin type-2 receptor-mediated stimulation on collecting duct water reabsorption. However, substantial amounts of PKA-mediated serine 256 phosphorylated aquaporin-2 were still present after 4 h of ZP120C treatment. Furthermore, neither preincubation with nociceptin nor ZP120C inhibited vasopressin-mediated cAMP accumulation in isolated collecting ducts. We conclude that renal opioid receptor-like 1 receptor stimulation in normal and congestive heart failure rats produces aquaresis by a direct renal effect, via aquaporin-2 downregulation, through a mechanism not involving inhibition of vasopressin type-2 receptor-mediated cAMP production.