Microinjection of arginine vasopressin into the medial preoptic area of the hypothalamus of male and female golden hamsters triggered a complex, stereotypic behavior--flank marking--a type of scent marking used in olfactory communication. The flank marking was not elicited by saline, oxytocin, neurotensin, or angiotensin II. Vasopressin was ineffective when injected into other areas of the hypothalamus or into the lateral cerebroventricle.