Hypertension is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and its control rates remain poor. In 2003, several official organizations presented new guidelines for hypertension management. These guidelines were developed using an evidence-based interpretation of the available information. Recommendations on hypertension prevention, diagnosis, patients' evaluation, decision to treat, antihypertensive drug selection and goals of treatment are included. There is considerable agreement among the new guidelines and only a few points of disagreement, that are of minor significance. Emphasis has been placed on the simplicity of recommendations in order for them to be easily applied by primary care physicians. This review focuses on the key messages of the 2003 guidelines and the areas of agreement and disagreement among them.