The peptide urotensin II (UII) and its receptor (UT) mediate cardiovascular and renal effects in both mammals and fishes. In both groups, vasopressor and diuretic responses predominate, although, in mammals, some secondary vasodilatation is found, mediated by secondary release of nitric oxide or prostacyclin. In fishes, gill extrusion of NaCl is inhibited by UII, but a single study has determined that UT is expressed in gill vasculature, not on the epithelium that mediates the transport. To begin to clarify the pathways involved in UII inhibition of gill transport, we have cloned the cDNA encoding UII and UT from the euryhaline killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus L.) gill and spinal cord, quantified UT mRNA expression in various tissues and measured relative expression in gill tissue from fish acclimated to seawater (SW) vs fresh water (FW). We have also localized UT in the gill epithelium, and measured the effect of UII on ion transport across the opercular epithelium. We found that both UII and UT are synthesized in the gill of F. heteroclitus and that gill UT mRNA levels are ∼80% higher in SW-vs FW-acclimated individuals. In addition, UII inhibits NaCl transport across the opercular epithelium in a concentration-dependent manner, and this inhibition is at least partially mediated by both nitric oxide and a prostanoid. © 2011. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.