High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a very common disorder with a substantial impact on public health because of its associated complications. Despite the high prevalence of essential hypertension and years of research, the basic causes remain obscure. Here I review recent advances in understanding the pathophysiology of hypertension. I present a general overview of the field and, by necessity, use broad strokes to portray recent progress and place it in context. For this purpose, I use illustrative examples from the large number of important developments in hypertension research over the last five years. The intent of this review is to provide a sense of where the field is progressing, with an emphasis on work that sheds light on pathogenic mechanisms and that is therefore likely to inform new translational advances.