Changes in blood pressure in 10 or 15 min periods during which a doctor repeatedly measured blood pressure by the cuff method were monitored by a continuous intra-arterial recorder. In almost all the 48 normotensive and hypertensive subjects tested the doctor's arrival at the bedside induced immediate rises in systolic and diastolic blood pressures peaking within 1 to 4 min (mean 26.7 +/- 2.3 mm Hg and 14.9 +/- 1.6 mm Hg above pre-visit values). There were large differences between individuals in the peak response (range, 4--75 mm Hg systolic and 1--36 mm Hg diastolic) unrelated to age, sex, baseline blood pressure, or blood-pressure variability. There was concomitant tachycardia (average peak response 15.9 +/- 1.5 beats/min, range 4--45 beats/min) which was only slightly correlated with the blood-pressure rise. After the peak response blood pressure declined and at the end of the visit was only slightly above the pre-visit level. A second visit by the same doctor did not change the average size of the early pressor response or the slope of its subsequent decline.