Hypertension has been reported to occur in 50 to 75 percent of subjects with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) prior to the onset of marked renal insufficiency but concurrent with cystic deformation of the renal parenchyma. The present study was undertaken to examine whether the renal structural abnormalities are greater in hypertensive (HBP) versus normotensive (NBP) male and female patients with ADPKD who were matched within gender groups for age, body surface area, serum creatinine concentration (males HBP 1.2 +/- 0.02 vs. NBP 1.1 +/- 0.03 mg/dl. NS: females HBP 0.9 +/- 0.03 vs. NBP 0.9 +/- 0.02 mg/dl, NS) and creatinine clearance (males HBP 100 +/- 3 vs. NBP 108 +/- 3 ml/min/1.73 m2, NS: females HBP 97 +/- 3 vs. NBP 96 +/- 2 ml/min/1.73 m2, NS). Renal volume was significantly greater in the HBP compared to the NBP group (males HBP 624 +/- 47 vs. NBP 390 +/- 43 cm3, P less than 0.0005; females HBP 446 +/- 32 vs. NBP 338 +/- 24 cm3, P less than 0.002). Since increased renal volume is due to increased cysts, the results indicate that the early high incidence of hypertension in ADPKD correlates with the renal structural abnormalities in this disorder.