The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is a barrier that prevents free access of blood-derived substances to the brain through the tight junctions and maintains a specialized brain environment. Circumventricular organs (CVOs) lack the typical BBB. The fenestrated vasculature of the sensory CVOs, including the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis (OVLT), subfornical organ (SFO) and area postrema (AP), allows parenchyma cells to sense a variety of blood-derived information, including osmotic ones. In the present study, we utilized immunohistochemistry to examine changes in the expression of NG2 and platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta (PDGFRB) in the OVLT, SFO and AP of adult mice during chronic osmotic stimulation. The expression of NG2 and PDGFRB was remarkably prominent in pericytes, although these angiogenesis-associated proteins are highly expressed at pericytes of developing immature vasculature. The chronic salt loading prominently increased the expression of NG2 in the OVLT and SFO and that of PDGFRB in the OVLT, SFO and AP. The vascular permeability of low-molecular-mass tracer fluorescein isothiocyanate was increased significantly by chronic salt loading in the OVLT and SFO but not AP. In conclusion, the present study demonstrates changes in pericyte expression of NG2 and PDGFRB and vascular permeability in the sensory CVOs by chronic osmotic stimulation, indicating active participation of the vascular system in osmotic homeostasis. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.