Male Wistar rats with one-kidney, one clip renal hypertension were maintained on either a regular or a low salt diet for 3 weeks after clipping. At that time mean blood pressure in the unanesthetized rats was equally elevated in sodium-depleted (n = 17) and in sodium-replete rats (n = 19), but plasma renin activity was significantly higher in the former (p less than 0.05). Infusion of the calcium entry blocker verapamil at a rate of 0.05 mg/kg/minute decreased blood pressure within 60 minutes to a similar extent in rats kept on a salt-deficient diet and in rats fed a regular salt diet. In all rats taken as a group, there was a close, direct correlation (r = 0.87, p less than 0.001) between the magnitude of the blood pressure response to verapamil and the pretreatment blood pressure levels. Verapamil markedly accelerated heart rate and stimulated renin release in all rats. In additional groups of sodium-depleted (n = 8) and sodium-replete renal hypertensive rats (n = 7), nifedipine administration (4 micrograms/kg/min i.v.) within a 45-minute observation period caused a blood pressure fall (p less than 0.001) and heart rate acceleration (p less than 0.001) that were comparable in both groups. These findings suggest that in the rat with renal hypertension the short-term blood pressure response to the calcium antagonists verapamil and nifedipine is not influenced by the state of sodium balance and plasma renin activity. In this experimental model of hypertension, the magnitude of the blood pressure lowering effect of calcium entry blockers appears to be proportional to pretreatment blood pressure levels.