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To investigate components of the haemostatic and fibrinolytic system in borderline hypertensives and hypertensives, drug-treated or not, from a defined population.A randomly selected sample of the population of northern Sweden, 1558 subjects aged 25–64 years, was studied. Eight per cent of them were being treated with antihypertensive drugs (trHT). Remaining subjects were classified according to their mean diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Normotension, DBP <85 mmHg, was found in 63%, borderline hypertension (bHT), DBP 85–94 mmHg, in 21% and untreated hypertension (uHT), DBP ≥ 95 mmHg, in 8% of the subjects.Mean age increased from the normotensive group through the bHT and uHT groups to the trHT group, members of which were the oldest. Age-adjusted values for the body mass index, waist: hip ratio, serum triglyceride and Phadeseph plasma insulin levels increased with each level of hypertension. Plasma fibrinogen levels and plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 activity (in men) increased stepwise from normotensives through bHT and uHT to the highest values found in the trHT group. The tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) activity in men declined strongly across the groups, trHT having the lowest fibrinolytic activity (P <0.001). tPA antigen levels increased strongly from normotensives through bHT to uHT, but then were lower in the trHT group. Even after adjustment for possible confounders, men in the uHT group had 21% higher (P = 0.027) tPA antigen levels than did the normotensives. In bHT men, the tPA antigen and plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 activities were 14 and 24% respectively, higher (P <0.01) than those in the normotensives.Hypertension is associated with multiple metabolic and fibrinolytic disturbances that are accentuated in drug-treated hypertensives and already discernible in subjects with borderline hypertension. Decreased fibrinolysis is associated with, and possibly secondary to, metabolic disturbances linked to the insulin-resistance syndrome. The independent increase in tPA antigen in hypertensive men might indicate an endothelial dysfunction.