Hypertension involves remodelling and inflammation of the arterial wall. Interactions between vascular and inflammatory cells play a critical role in disease initiation and progression. T effector and regulatory lymphocytes, members of the adaptive immune system, play contrasting roles in hypertension. Signals from the central nervous system and the innate immune system antigen-presenting cells activate T effector lymphocytes and promote their differentiation towards pro-inflammatory T helper (Th) 1 and Th17 phenotypes. Th1 and Th17 effector cells, via production of pro-inflammatory mediators, participate in the low-grade inflammation that leads to blood pressure elevation and end-organ damage. T regulatory lymphocytes, on the other hand, counteract hypertensive effects by suppressing innate and adaptive immune responses. The present review summarizes and discusses the adaptive immune mechanisms that participate in the pathophysiology in hypertension.