1. Intracellular pH and Na+/H+ antiport activity were determined by a fluorimetric method in cultured skeletal muscle cells (myoblasts) and aortic vascular smooth muscle cells from spontaneously hypertensive and normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats.
2. The intracellular pH was significantly more alkaline at three different extracellular pH values in both myoblasts and vascular smooth muscle cells from the spontaneously hypertensive rats than in those from the normotensive control rats.
3. A kinetic analysis of the Na+/H+ antiport activity in these cells showed that the raised activity in the spontaneously hypertensive rats was due to an increased maximal transport capacity in vascular smooth muscle cells and to an increase in the affinity of the antiport for internal H+ in the myoblasts.
4. When the extracellular pH was reduced in the skeletal muscle cells of both types of rat, the intracellular pH fell. However, in vascular smooth muscle cells, a reduction in the extracellular pH was not associated with a fall in the intracellular pH. This resistance of the intracellular pH to changes in the extracellular pH differentiates vascular smooth muscle cells from other cells that have been studied in this way.