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This study was designed to assess any changes in mononuclear leucocytes from young men at increased risk of developing essential hypertension and to determine whether any changes found were associated with borderline hypertension and/or heredity. To this end we used mononuclear leucocytes as a cellular model for in vitro measurement of total 86rubidium uptake to give an index of sodium-potassium pump activity.Four groups of subjects were evaluated, 28 normotensive and 20 borderline hypertensive offspring of hypertensives, and 12 borderline hypertensives and 28 normotensives with normotensive parents. 86Rubidium uptake was significantly increased in the borderline hypertensive subjects, especially in the borderline hypertensive offspring of hypertensive patients.Our results indicate that the sodium-potassium pump is activated in mononuclear leucocytes from borderline hypertensives, and especially in those borderline hypertensives with at least one hypertensive parent. The latter group was also the group at greatest risk of developing essential hypertension.