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Magnocellular neurons (MCNs) in the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system (HNS) are highly specialized to release large amounts of arginine vasopressin (Avp) or oxytocin (Oxt) into the blood stream and play critical roles in the regulation of body fluid homeostasis. The MCNs are osmosensory neurons and are excited by exposure to hypertonic solutions and inhibited by hypotonic solutions. The MCNs respond to systemic hypertonic and hypotonic stimulation with large changes in the expression of their Avp and Oxt genes, and microarray studies have shown that these osmotic perturbations also cause large changes in global gene expression in the HNS. In this paper, we examine gene expression in the rat supraoptic nucleus (SON) under normosmotic and chronic salt-loading SL) conditions by the first time using "new-generation", RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) methods. We reliably detect 9,709 genes as present in the SON by RNA-Seq, and 552 of these genes were changed in expression as a result of chronic SL. These genes reflect diverse functions, and 42 of these are involved in either transcriptional or translational processes. In addition, we compare the SON transcriptomes resolved by RNA-Seq methods with the SON transcriptomes determined by Affymetrix microarray methods in rats under the same osmotic conditions, and find that there are 6,466 genes present in the SON that are represented in both data sets, although 1,040 of the expressed genes were found only in the microarray data, and 2,762 of the expressed genes are selectively found in the RNA-Seq data and not the microarray data. These data provide the research community a comprehensive view of the transcriptome in the SON under normosmotic conditions and the changes in specific gene expression evoked by salt loading.