The stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHRSP) is a unique genetic model of severe hypertension and cerebral stroke. SHRSP, as well as the spontaneously hypertensive rat, the parental strain of SHRSP, has made a tremendous contribution to cardiovascular research. However, the genetic mechanisms underlying hypertension and stroke in these rats have not yet been clarified. Recent studies using whole-genome sequencing and comprehensive gene expression analyses combined with classical quantitative trait loci analyses provided several candidate genes, such as Ephx2, Gstm1 and Slc34a1, which still need further evidence to define their pathological roles. Currently, genome-wide association studies can directly identify candidate genes for hypertension in the human genome. Thus, genetic studies in SHRSP and other rat models must be focused on the pathogenetic roles of 'networks of interacting genes' in hypertension, instead of searching for individual candidate genes.