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We prospectively studied patients with hypertension and diabetes undergoing elective noncardiac surgery with general anesthesia to test the hypothesis that patients at high risk for prognostically significant intraoperative hemodynamic instability could be identified by their preoperative characteristics. Specifically we hypothesized that patients with a low functional capacity, decreased plasma volume, or significant cardiac comorbidity would be at high risk for intraoperative hypotension and those with a history of severe hypertension would be at risk for intraoperative hypertension. Patients who had a preoperative mean arterial pressure (MAP) ≥110, a walking distance of less than 400 m, or a plasma volume less than 3000 cc were at increased risk of intraoperative hypotension (i.e., more than 1 hour of ≥20 mmHg decreases in the MAP). Hypotension was also more common among patients having intra-abdominal or vascular surgery, and among those who had operations longer than 2 hours. Patients older than 70 years or with a decreased plasma volume were at increased risk of having more than 15 minutes of intraoperative elevations of 2:20 mmHg over the preoperative MAP in combination with intraoperative hypotension; this was also more common when surgery lasted more than 2 hours. Patients who had intraoperative hypotension tended to have an immediate decrease in MAP at the onset of anesthesia and were often purposefully maintained at MAPs less than their usual level during surgery with fentanyl and neuromuscular blocking agents. Patients who had intraoperative hyper/hypotension tended to have repeated elevations in MAP above their preoperative levels during the course of surgery, and such elevations precipitated interventions with neuromuscular blocking agents and/or fentanyl. Neither pattern was more common among patients who developed net intraoperative negative fluid balances. Both hypotension and hyper/hypotension were associated with increased renal and cardiac complications after operation. Patients with cardiac disease, especially diabetics, and those with negative fluid balances also had increased complications. Preoperative characteristics influence the susceptibility to intraoperative hypotension and hypertension, which are related to postoperative complications.