Several epidemiological studies have shown a positive association between serum uric acid levels and the risk of hypertension. However, subjects in these studies were mostly men, or were incompletely examined for lifestyle-related variables. We prospectively examined the relation between hyperuricemia and the risk of developing hypertension with consideration for alcohol consumption and smoking habits in a large screened cohort of men and women. A total of 4,489 individuals (2,927 men and 1,562 women) who did not have hypertension and were not currently using antihypertensive medication were examined at the Okinawa General Health Maintenance Association in 1977. Subjects were re-examined in 2000. Hyperuricemia was defined as a serum uric acid level >or=7.0 mg/dl in men and >or=6.0 mg/dl in women. Hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure (SBP) >or=140 mmHg, and/or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) >or=90 mmHg. A total of 289 subjects (201 men and 88 women) were hypertensive (SBP >or=140 mmHg, and/or DBP >or=90 mmHg) in 2000. Multivariate analysis was performed for development of hypertension in hyperuricemic subjects, adjusted for age, family history of hypertension, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, obesity, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus. The adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) in men was 1.48 (1.08-2.02) and in women was 1.90 (1.03-3.51) (p <0.05, respectively). The results showed hyperuricemia to be a new predictor of hypertension development in both men and women.