1. We assessed whether a lifestyle modification programme implemented by nurse counsellors in a general practice setting would improve blood pressure (BP) control in treated hypertensive patients. 2. Patients were randomized into a control group or one of two intervention groups who received either a high or low level of counselling. 3. Patients in the intervention groups had appointments every 4th week for 18 weeks. The low intervention group had one practice appointment and five telephone counselling appointments while the high intervention group had six appointments in their general practice. The patients were counselled using a stage of change behavioural model and motivational interviewing to: reduce alcohol consumption, dietary fat and salt intake and weight; cease smoking; and increase leisure time physical activity. 4. Compared with controls the low intervention group showed significant decreases in alcohol and salt intake while the high intervention resulted in significant decreases in both weight and BP. 5. We conclude that nurse counselling targeted to specific aspects of lifestyle can improve BP control and weight in treated hypertensive patients over 18 weeks. Its longer term effectiveness in the management of hypertension warrants further evaluation.