We have recently shown that the content of immunoreactive endothelin-1 is increased in acid extracts from blood vessels of deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA)-salt hypertensive rats compared with uninephrectomized control rats. We have also found by immunohistochemistry a significant increase in immunoreactive endothelin-1 in endothelial cells of aorta and mesenteric arteries of DOCA-salt hypertensive rats. In the present study, we investigated preproendothelin-1 gene expression in blood vessels of DOCA-salt hypertensive rats and uninephrectomized control rats. Northern blot analysis using a specific 32P-labeled complementary RNA probe for rat preproendothelin-1 of 319 base pairs revealed a fourfold to fivefold increase in abundance of preproendothelin-1 messenger RNA transcripts in both aorta and mesenteric arteries from DOCA-salt hypertensive rats. Thus, increased immunoreactive endothelin-1 content in blood vessels of DOCA-salt hypertensive rats is secondary to increased preproendothelin-1 gene expression. Exaggerated expression of the preproendothelin-1 gene in mineralocorticoid hypertension may contribute to the maintenance of elevated blood pressure.