1. Noise stimulation (100 dBA) for 10 min caused a significant increase in diastolic (7.0%, P < 0.001) and mean arterial blood pressure (4.3%, P < 0.01) in patients with essential hypertension.
2. The blood pressure response to noise was due to an increase in total peripheral resistance (4.8%, P < 0.02); heart rate, stroke volume and cardiac output were unchanged.
3. β1-selective adrenoceptor blockade (metoprolol) did not change the haemodynamic reaction pattern induced by noise.
4. Noise exposure during non-selective β-adrenoceptor blockade (propranolol) caused an accentuated blood pressure response with increments of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as a more pronounced rise in total peripheral resistance.
5. The haemodynamic changes induced by noise stimulation at 100 dBA totally disappeared after 5 min of quiet rest at 40 dBA.