Guanabenz is an orally active central alpha 2-adrenoceptor agonist. Its antihypertensive action is thought to result from a decrease in sympathetic outflow from the brain to the peripheral circulatory system as a result of stimulation of central alpha 2-adrenoceptors. In mild to moderate hypertension it is as effective as methyldopa and clonidine in lowering blood pressure when used as the sole treatment. As with these drugs, guanabenz may be combined with a diuretic to increase its blood pressure-lowering effect. The overall incidence of side effects seen with guanabenz was at least as high as with methyldopa or clonidine, and side effects such as drowsiness or dry mouth have been bothersome enough to lead to discontinuation of guanabenz therapy in some patients. However, particularly troublesome effects such as sodium retention, depression or sexual dysfunction which may occur with methyldopa or clonidine have not been reported with guanabenz.