A study of hypertension in an industrial setting allowed us to confirm and explore an earlier retrospective finding that the labeling of patients as hypertensive resulted in increased absenteeism from work. After screening and referral, we found that absenteeism rose (mean +/- 1 S.E.) 5.2 +/- 2.3 days per year (P less than 0.025); this 80 per cent increase greatly exceeded the 9 per cent rise in absenteeism in the general employee population during this period. The main factors associated with increased absenteeism were becoming aware of the condition (P less than 0.01) and low compliance with treatment (P less than 0.001). Subsequent absenteeism among patients unaware of their hypertension before screening was not related to the degree of hypertension, whether the worker was started on therapy, the degree of blood-pressure control achieved or exposure to attempts to promote compliance. These results have major implications for hypertension screening programs, especially since absenteeism rose among those previously unaware of their condition, regardless of whether antihypertensive therapy was begun.