Human essential hypertension is recognized as a multifactorial disease involving many genes, but the causative genes have not yet been identified. For many years hypertension was studied primarily in the rat, but more recently several candidate genes for hypertension have been used to produce transgenic mice for gain of function and gene-targeted mice for loss of function studies. These genetically engineered mouse strains with hypertension or hypotension are providing insights into the mechanisms of blood pressure regulation. However, genetically engineered mice are used to study one gene at a time, and another complementary approach is needed for polygenic inheritance and gene interaction. The phenotype-driven approach to hypertension studies uses the natural variation among inbred strains and crosses to find quantitative trait loci. The four mouse crosses carried out so far have found several quantitative trait loci that are concordant with hypertension loci found in rats and humans.