There is now convincing evidence from epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials that adoption of an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet leads to blood pressure reduction in both normotensive and hypertensive subjects. This effect appears to be independent of both dietary sodium and weight loss but additive to effects of weight reduction. Long-term adherence to a vegetarian diet is associated with less of a rise of blood pressure with age and a decreased prevalence of hypertension. The nutrients responsible for these effects have not been clearly identified and the mechanisms involved are unknown. Resolution of these questions is needed to enable more widespread adoption of dietary changes which may reduce the prevalence of hypertension, reduce antihypertensive drug dependence and by effects on blood pressure and blood lipids ameliorate the natural history of hypertensive cardiovascular disease.