Use non-pharmacological measures in all hypertensive and borderline hypertensive people. Initiate antihypertensive drug therapy in people with sustained systolic blood pressures (BP) >/=160 mm Hg or sustained diastolic BP >/=100 mm Hg. Decide on treatment in people with sustained systolic BP between 140 and 159 mm Hg or sustained diastolic BP between 90 and 99 mm Hg according to the presence or absence of target organ damage, cardiovascular disease or a 10-year coronary heart disease (CHD) risk of >/=15% according to the Joint British Societies CHD risk assessment programme/risk chart. In people with diabetes mellitus, initiate antihypertensive drug therapy if systolic BP is sustained >/=140 mm Hg or diastolic BP is sustained >/=90 mm Hg. In non-diabetic hypertensive people, optimal BP treatment targets are: systolic BP <140 mm Hg and diastolic BP <85 mm Hg. The minimum acceptable level of control (Audit Standard) recommended is <150/<90 mm Hg. Despite best practice, these levels will be difficult to achieve in some hypertensive people. In diabetic hypertensive people, optimal BP targets are; systolic BP <140 mm Hg and diastolic BP <80 mm Hg. The minimum acceptable level of control (Audit Standard) recommended is <140/<90 mm Hg. Despite best practice, these levels will be difficult to achieve in some people with diabetes and hypertension. In the absence of contraindications or compelling indications for other antihypertensive agents, low dose thiazide diuretics or beta-blockers are preferred as first-line therapy for the majority of hypertensive people. In the absence of compelling indications for beta-blockade, diuretics or long acting dihydropyridine calcium antagonists are preferred to beta-blockers in older subjects. Compelling indications and contraindications for all antihypertensive drug classes are specified. For most hypertensives, a combination of antihypertensive drugs will be required to achieve the recommended targets for blood pressure control. Other drugs that reduce cardiovascular risk must also be considered. These include aspirin for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, and primary prevention in treated hypertensive subjects over the age of 50 years who have a 10-year CHD risk >/=15% and in whom blood pressure is controlled to the audit standard. In accordance with existing British recommendations, statin therapy is recommended for hypertensive people with a total cholesterol >/=5 mmol/L and established vascular disease, or 10-year CHD risk >/=30% estimated from the Joint British Societies CHD risk chart. Glycaemic control should also be optimised in diabetic subjects. Specific advice is given on the management of hypertension in specific patient groups, ie, the elderly, ethnic subgroups, diabetes mellitus, chronic renal disease and in women (pregnancy, oral contraceptive use and hormone replacement therapy). Suggestions for the implementation and audit of these guidelines in primary care are provided.