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Erythrocyte membrane cation transport was measured in 167 adults completing the fourth year of a randomized controlled trial testing the efficacy of nutrition intervention for treatment of ‘mild’ hypertension. Intervention objectives consisted of weight loss, moderate sodium restriction, and reduction of alcohol intake. The mean sodium-stimulated lithium-countertransport (LCT) for 35 participants able to maintain normotensive blood pressures for 4 years by nutritional means alone was 0.29 mmol/l cells per h compared with 0.38 for the 48 subjects requiring represcription of drugs (P < 0.01). Weight loss from baseline to year 4 was inversely related to LCT among those who were overweight at baseline (P < 0.05); reported alcohol intakes were positively related to LCT (P < 0.05). These findings suggest that blood pressure control by nutrition intervention in ‘mild’ hypertensives is associated with levels of LCT characteristic of normotension. Higher mean LCT in those requiring represcription of drugs was related to lower serum potassium and higher serum triglyceride levels in this subgroup.