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Isolated office hypertension, defined as hypertensive blood pressure values in a medical setting but normal self-measured or ambulatory-recorded blood pressures, is frequently encountered in clinical practice. Yet, whether this condition represents a transient state in the development of a sustained ambulatory hypertension is still unknown as no long-term analysis of the evolution of ambulatory blood pressure has been carried out in patients with isolated office hypertension. To evaluate whether such patients should be considered as truly normotensive or hypertensive, we have studied the long-term changes in office and ambulatory blood pressures in 81 patients in whom isolated office hypertension was observed between 1982 and 1988.After a 5–6 year follow-up, 60 of the 81 patients had a mean 12h daytime ambulatory blood pressure greater than 140/90 mm Hg, suggesting an evolution towards ambulatory hypertension. The development of hypertension could not be predicted on the basis of the follow-up office blood pressures as these tended to decrease during the follow-up period.The results of this study suggest that patients with isolated office hypertension should not be considered as truly normotensive individuals. Hence, these patients require a careful medical follow-up. Office blood pressure readings alone, however, do not appear to provide a good indicator of the long-term outcome of isolated office hypertension.