1. We have previously reported reduced blood pH and plasma bicarbonate in young Okamoto–Aoki spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) compared with normotensive Wistar–Kyoto rats (WKY). Acid loading with 1.5% (w/v) NH4Cl as the sole drinking fluid produced identical falls in blood pH, the difference remaining significant.
2. The ability of SHR to excrete acid and alkaline loads was compared with that of WKY under metabolic cage conditions. The effects of such manipulations on urinary sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphate excretion were also determined.
3. No difference was found in the ability to excrete an acid load or to reduce urine pH. Neither total urinary ammonium ion nor titratable acid differed significantly between the strains under either baseline or acid-loading conditions.
4. Baseline urinary bicarbonate excretion was not significantly different between strains but intraperitoneal administration of NaHCO3 at 2.0 mmol/kg body weight resulted in enhanced excretion in the SHR (SHR vs WKY: 625.2±71.5 vs 381.8±40.6 μmol 24h−1 kg−1 body weight, P < 0.01, mean±sem).
5. No difference in urinary sodium or potassium excretion was observed between SHR and WKY, but basal calcium and phosphate excretion were reduced in SHR (P < 0.05).
6. Increased urinary bicarbonate excretion in the presence of significantly reduced plasma bicarbonate suggests reduced tubular reabsorption of bicarbonate, which may contribute to the mild metabolic acidosis in young SHR.