Animals living in desert environments are forced to survive despite severe heat, intense solar radiation, and both acute and chronic dehydration. These animals have evolved phenotypes that effectively address these environmental stressors. To begin to understand the ways in which the desert-adapted rodent Peromyscus eremicus survives, reproductively mature adults were subjected to 72 h of water deprivation, during which they lost, on average, 23% of their body weight. The animals reacted via a series of changes in the kidney, which included modulating expression of genes responsible for reducing the rate of transcription and maintaining water and salt balance. Extracellular matrix turnover appeared to be decreased, and apoptosis was limited. In contrast to the canonical human response, serum creatinine and other biomarkers of kidney injury were not elevated, suggesting that changes in gene expression related to acute dehydration may effectively prohibit widespread kidney damage in the cactus mouse.