1. A Valsalva-like manoeuvre was used to elicit graded rises in total peripheral resistance (TPR) in conscious rabbits. The rises were reflex and mediated through sympathetic constrictors. Propranolol infused at different rates reaching plasma concentrations up to 240 (sem 33) ng/ml had no effect on this reflex but reduced mean arterial pressure. However, the response was attenuated by clonidine in a dose-dependent manner.
2. Valsalva manoeuvres were used to elicit graded sympathetically mediated rises in TPR index in twenty-nine subjects with mean arterial pressure ranging from 75 to 165 mmHg. Absolute sensitivity of the constrictor response increased with rising resting TPR index, resulting in some enhancement of constrictor responses in the hypertensive subjects. It seems likely that non-autonomic factors (e.g. vessel structure) rather than hyperactive neural constrictor effects are involved in the enhanced constrictor responses in essential hypertension.