The relation between maximum systolic blood pressure (BP) during exercise and left ventricular (LV) mass is controversial. Physical activity also induces LV mass increase. The objective was to assess the relation between BP response to exercise and LV mass in normotensive men, taking into account physical activity practice. A cross-sectional study was performed. Three hundred eighteen healthy normotensive men, aged between 20 and 60 years, participated in this study. The Minnesota questionnaire was used to assess physical activity practice. An echocardiogram and a maximum exercise test were performed. LV mass was calculated and indexed to body surface area. LV hypertrophy was defined as a ventricular mass index > or =134 g/m2. BP was measured at the moment of maximum effort. Hypertensive response was considered when BP was > or =210 mm Hg. In the multiple linear regression model, maximum systolic BP was associated with LV mass index and correlation coefficient was 0.27 (SE 0.07). Physical activity practice and age were also associated with LV mass. An association between hypertensive response to exercise and LV hypertrophy was observed (odds ratio 3.16). Thus, BP response to exercise is associated with LV mass and men with systolic BP response > or =210 mm Hg present a 3-times higher risk of LV hypertrophy than those not reaching this limit. Physical activity practice is related to LV mass, but not to LV hypertrophy.