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Twenty-eight urban untreated hypertensive men [mean age: 54 years; systolic (SBP)/diastolic (DBP) blood pressure at clinic: 148/96 mmHg] and 26 age- and sex-matched normal controls (54 years, 118/78 mmHg) were examined during normal daily activities by ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. When compared with home blood pressures, clinic blood pressures were 8/10% (SBP/DBP) higher in the hypertensives, but 1/3% lower in the normotensives. The values were significantly different for both groups (P < 0.01 for SBP; P < 0.001 for DBP). In contrast, the blood pressures fell in a similar manner in both groups during sleep. On working days, the blood pressures during work were 10/9% higher than the corresponding home blood pressures in the hypertensives and only 3/3% higher in the normotensives. These differences were significant (P < 0.01 for both SBP and DBP). The results show that the blood pressures of hypertensives were hyperreactive to casual daily stress. In the normotensives, left ventricular wall thickness determined by echocardiography was correlated significantly with the blood pressures during work (r=0.5, P < 0.05 for SBP and DBP) and at home (r = 0.4, P < 0.05 for SBP).