1. Exercise-induced pH changes in skeletal muscle were studied in a group of eight subjects with essential hypertension by using 31P n.m.r. spectroscopy.
2. Leucocyte Na+/H+ antiport activity was measured in vitro in the same subjects using a pH-sensitive fluorescent dye.
3. Resting skeletal muscle pH and unstimulated leucocyte pH values were similar to those in control subjects, but increased Na+/H+ antiport activity was demonstrated in the leucocytes from hypertensive subjects by acid loading in vitro. Decreased skeletal muscle acidification and an increased rate of pH recovery was also demonstrated in vivo in these same patients during an acid load induced by isotonic exercise.
4. These findings suggest that the increased cellular Na+/H+ antiport activity, which has been demonstrated in vitro in essential hypertension, also affects the biochemical response of skeletal muscle to physiological levels of exercise. This strengthens the argument that increased Na+/H+ antiport activity in hypertension is a generalized and physiologically relevant cellular abnormality.