An inhibitor of active sodium transport (Na+ + K+-ATPase inhibitor), partially purified from the culture medium of fetal rat hypothalamic cells, has been shown to possess vasoactive properties. In order to explore whether fetal hypothalamic neurons from spontaneously hypertensive rats produce higher concentrations of the inhibitor than produced by those from normotensive rats, we cultured hypothalamic cells from both sources. An average of 10(6) cells per hypothalamus was obtained, and heat-treated (80 degrees C for 10 minutes) culture medium (120 ml) after lyophilization yielded 0.8 g of material. After Sephadex G-15 chromatography, 0.5 g of lyophilized medium from fetal hypothalamic neurons of spontaneously hypertensive rats yielded 254 +/- 47 arbitrarily defined units of Na+ + K+-ATPase inhibitory activity compared with 238 +/- 59 units from identical material of normotensive source. These studies show that the production of the hypothalamic Na+ + K+-ATPase inhibitor is not increased at the fetal stage in the spontaneously hypertensive rats.