1. Resting plasma dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH) activity and haemodynamic parameters were studied in untreated borderline (twenty-nine) and permanent (twenty-seven) essential hypertensive patients. DBH was also measured in sixty-three apparently healthy subjects.
2. Mean DBH values were not significantly different between the groups.
3. Cardiac output, cardiopulmonary blood volume and the cardiopulmonary blood volume/total blood volume ratio (CPBV/TBV) were significantly higher in borderline than in permanent hypertensive patients.
4. In borderline hypertensive patients, plasma DBH activity was directly correlated with diastolic arterial pressure and with values of cardiac output, cardiopulmonary blood volume and CPBV/TBV ratio. No such correlations could be observed in the permanent hypertensive group.
5. These results suggest that plasma DBH activities in borderline hypertension mainly depend on the sympathetic activity responsible for the haemodynamic variations. Contrariwise, plasma DBH activities in permanent essential hypertensive patients appear to reflect other factors.