1. Plasma noradrenaline concentrations and haemodynamic status were simultaneously studied in young patients with uncomplicated essential hypertension and in age-matched normal controls.
2. Resting plasma noradrenaline in the controls tended to increase slightly, but progressively, with age. The hypertensive subjects had significantly higher plasma noradrenaline concentrations than those in the controls, but these values did not show any age-related variation. The response of plasma noradrenaline to the standing position tended to increase with age in the controls, whereas plasma noradrenaline in the hypertensive subjects showed a wide range of responses without any fixed relationship with age.
3. The cardiac index was significantly greater in the labile hypertensive subjects than in the controls, whereas total peripheral resistance was significantly greater in the sustained hypertensive subjects than in the labile patients and in the controls. Mean arterial pressure in these patients was closely related with the values of total peripheral resistance rather than with the cardiac index.
4. Of the patients with raised plasma noradrenaline 80% showed significantly increased values of either total peripheral resistance or cardiac index. Plasma noradrenaline was correlated significantly to total peripheral resistance, and marginally to mean arterial pressure.
5. These findings support the view that sympathetic nervous overactivity is an important factor underlying the haemodynamic findings in these patients.