Background: A reduced oxygen supply puts patients at risk of tissue hypoxia, organ damage, and even death. In response, several changes are activated that allow for at least partial adaptation, thereby increasing the chances of survival. We aimed to investigate whether the arginine vasopressin marker, copeptin, can be used as a marker of the degree of acclimatization/adaptation in rats exposed to hypoxia. Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to 10% oxygen for up to 48 hours. Arterial and right ventricular pressures were measured, and blood gas analysis was performed at set time points. Pulmonary changes were investigated by bronchoalveolar lavage, wet and dry weight measurements, and lung histology. Using a newly developed specific rat copeptin luminescence immunoassay, the regulation of vasopressin in response to hypoxia was studied, as was atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) by detecting mid-regional proANP. Results: With a decreasing oxygen supply, the rats rapidly became cyanotic and inactive. Despite continued exposure to 10% oxygen, all animals recuperated within 16 hours and ultimately survived. Their systemic blood pressure fell with acute (5 minutes) hypoxia but was partially recovered over time. In contrast, right ventricular pressures increased with acute (5 minutes) hypoxia and normalized after 16 hours. No signs of pulmonary inflammation or edema were found despite prolonged hypoxia. Whereas copeptin levels increased significantly after acute (5 minutes) hypoxia and then returned to near baseline after 16 hours, mid-regional proANP levels were even further increased after 16 hours of exposure to hypoxia. Conclusion: Plasma copeptin is a sensitive marker of acute (5 minutes) exposure to severe hypoxia, and subsequent regulation can indicate recovery. Copeptin levels can therefore reflect clinical and physiological changes in response to hypoxia and indicate recovery from ongoing hypoxic exposure.