SUMMARY Five hundred seventy-four ambulatory subjects with blood pressures ranging from 94/58 to 250/145 mm Hg were studied on their usual dietary and sodium intake. Renin, renin substrate, angiotensin II, aldosterone and urinary sodium and potassium were compared with blood pressure to assess the contribution of these variables to the blood pressure variance. Our analyses revealed that renin substrate was highly and positively correlated with diastolic blood pressure (r = +039; p < 0.00001) but all other components of the renin-aldosterone system exhibited a significant negative correlation with blood pressure. A highly significant relationship between potassium, the renin-aldosterone system and blood pressure was found but no such relationship could be demonstrated for sodium. Subjects with higher blood pressures had lower urinary potassium concentrations and lower potassium/creatinine ratios. These findings raised the possibility of a significant pathogenetic relationship between potassium and high blood pressure. Multiple linear regression reveals that influences of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system can only account for less than 20% of the variance exhibited by the blood pressure in these subjects.