Endothelin (ET) peptides and their receptors are intimately involved in the physiological control of systemic blood pressure and body Na homeostasis, exerting these effects through alterations in a host of circulating and local factors. Hormonal systems affected by ET include natriuretic peptides, aldosterone, catecholamines, and angiotensin. ET also directly regulates cardiac output, central and peripheral nervous system activity, renal Na and water excretion, systemic vascular resistance, and venous capacitance. ET regulation of these systems is often complex, sometimes involving opposing actions depending on which receptor isoform is activated, which cells are affected, and what other prevailing factors exist. A detailed understanding of this system is important; disordered regulation of the ET system is strongly associated with hypertension and dysregulated extracellular fluid volume homeostasis. In addition, ET receptor antagonists are being increasingly used for the treatment of a variety of diseases; while demonstrating benefit, these agents also have adverse effects on fluid retention that may substantially limit their clinical utility. This review provides a detailed analysis of how the ET system is involved in the control of blood pressure and Na homeostasis, focusing primarily on physiological regulation with some discussion of the role of the ET system in hypertension. Copyright © 2011 the American Physiological Society.