1. Forearm venous tone was measured in the left lateral supine position and in response to passive leg elevation in a group of women with pregnancy-induced hypertension and compared with a group of normotensive pregnant women and a group of non-pregnant women.

2. The women with pregnancy-induced hypertension were venoconstricted in the supine position compared with the normal pregnant women (P < 0.002). There was no difference in forearm venous tone between the women with pregnancy-induced hypertension and the non-pregnant women.

3. In response to passive leg elevation the women with pregnancy-induced hypertension venodilated (P < 0.002) whereas there was no change in forearm venous tone in the normotensive pregnant women and the non-pregnant women. There was no change in blood pressure in any of the women after 35 min of leg elevation.

4. These results demonstrate that the abnormal venous vasoconstriction that occurs in women with pregnancy-induced hypertension in the supine position is corrected by passive leg elevation, a manoeuvre which leads to an increase in central blood volume.

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