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The regional brain and spinal cord concentrations of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) were measured in age-matched (22–23-week-old) spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and normotensive Wistar–Kyoto (WKY) rats. The highest concentration of CCRP in the WKY rats was in the spinal cord (172 ± 9pmol/g), followed by the medulla oblongata/pons (88 ± 5 pmol/g). The relative order of distribution in the remaining regions was: hypothalamus (12.6 ± 0.8 pmol/g) = striatum > thalamus > midbrain = hippocampus > cortex (2.1 ± 0.3 pmol/g). The concentration of CCRP in the cerebellum was at the level of the assay's sensitivity (0.5 pmol/g). The relative order of distribution in the SHR strain was essentially the same. However, in comparison with the WKY rats, the SHR had significantly lower levels of CGRP in the hippocampus (−47%), striatum (−49%) and medulla oblongata/pons (−24%), and in the spinal cord (−24%). In younger age-matched (16–17-week-old) rats, the spinal cord and medulla oblongata/pons concentrations of CGRP were also lower in SHR than in WKY rats. CCRP is a putative neurotransmitter which, when administered centrally or peripherally, has potent cardiovascular effects. The reduced levels of this peptide may be an important factor in the cardiovascular and/or behavioural abnormalities of the SHR strain.