The aim in this study was to assess the frequency and type of self-reported side-effects among hypertensives in a general population, and to estimate the relationship between drug use and side-effects and health utility using the Rating Scale (RS) method. The study is based on a postal questionnaire that was sent to a random sample of 8000 inhabitants aged 20-84 years (response rate 68%) in Uppsala County, Sweden, in 1995. The results showed that nearly 20% of the users of antihypertensive drugs reported side-effects. Men and women reported side-effects to nearly the same extent. In the linear regression analyses, those with hypertension, with or without medication, rated lower health utilities (-6.0 and -7.1 respectively) than did normotensives after controlling for age and sex. The lowest value, -8.7, was found among drug users who experienced side-effects. Side-effects causing impotence and emotional distress, i.e. insomnia, tiredness and depression had the strongest negative impact on health utility. To conclude, the study showed that side-effects among hypertensives are common. Both the disease and the drug treatment adversely affect the patient's well-being. However, drug treatment was of less importance than that found in prior studies. The findings here stress that side-effects should be taken into greater consideration when evaluating drug treatment.