1. Cardiac output, heart rate and mean arterial pressure were determined in two-kidney Goldblatt hypertensive rats of 4 weeks' duration, in matched normotensive controls and in declipped renal hypertensive rats 2 h-28 days after renal artery declipping.
2. After declipping mean pressure fell rapidly due to a corresponding reduction in total peripheral resistance, this being normalized after 1 day. Cardiac output and heart rate remained initially unchanged, but 1 day after declipping the former was significantly increased compared with output in renal hypertensive rats.
3. The initial normalization of total peripheral resistance must be ascribed to a subnormal vascular smooth muscle tone. The reason is that the hypertensive structural vascular changes are not yet significantly reduced and their presence implies an elevated flow resistance, even when vascular smooth muscle activity equals that in normotension.
4. This considerable ‘overshoot’ in vascular relaxation and lack of reflexogenic tachycardia, despite resetting of baroreceptors, suggest that peripheral as well as central mechanisms contribute to the rapid normalization of mean arterial pressure in two-kidney Goldblatt hypertension in rats, later stabilized by reversal of structural vascular changes.