This investigation was to assess the role of genetic loading of hypertensive parents in the determination of blood pressure (BP) in their normotensive offspring. The medical check-up data from 7279 Japanese university students aged 19.22 +/- 0.01 years were analysed of which 641 students had only one hypertensive parent with or without hypertensive grandparents, and from this number 609 cases were available for the present analysis. The BP in the students having only one hypertensive parent were in the normotensive range, but was significantly higher than in those students without hypertensive relatives. Analyses of the data from the students having only one hypertensive parent revealed that systolic BP (SBP) and body mass index (BMI) were higher in the male than in the female students. In addition, there were no differences in BP and BMI between the male students with a hypertensive father and the male students having a normotensive father. However, multivariate analyses revealed that BMI was an independent predictor of SBP solely in the male students having a hypertensive father, but not in the male students having a normotensive father. Such a relationship between BMI and BP determination was not observed in the female students with one hypertensive parent. It is suggested that there are different mechanisms for the determination of BP in normotensive offspring of hypertensive parents, and genetic loading of a hypertensive father plays a critical role in the determination of BP through BMI.