In this study we wanted to evaluate the relationship between the ob gene product leptin and blood pressure, as well as plasma renin activity and plasma aldosterone levels. We studied 139 subjects with a mean+/-SD age of 50 +/-14 years and a body mass index of 26.5+/-5.3 kg/m2; 110 subjects had essential hypertension and 29 were healthy nonhypertensive controls. Blood pressure was measured in resting conditions in the morning and blood was drawn for the determination of the plasma renin activity, aldosterone, and leptin levels. The mean blood pressure of the population was 155/97 mm Hg. The relationship between these parameters was studied by univariate regression analysis according to gender and, whenever indicated, adjusted for age and body mass. The mean+/-SEM plasma leptin level in the whole population was 9.5+/-0.6 ng/mL (range, 1.1-43.3). Subjects with stage I hypertension had significantly higher plasma leptin levels than normotensive subjects. Systolic blood pressure correlated with the plasma leptin levels and the leptin levels adjusted for body weight in women (r = 0.422, P < .01) and nonhypertensive men (r = 0.644, P = .03) only. Plasma renin activity (r = 0.329, P = .03) and aldosterone levels (r = 0.342, P = .026) correlated with the leptin concentration. A significant relationship between the peripheral expression of the ob gene product leptin and systolic blood pressure was found in women and nonhypertensive men. In view of the multiple functions of leptin a causal relationship is postulated and potential mechanisms may involve modulatory effects of leptin on neuropeptide Y, angiotensinogen gene expression, the modulation of the autonomous nervous system, or effects on the pituitary adrenal axis. Direct relationships between both plasma renin activity and aldosterone levels and leptin support the potential importance of the relationship between leptin and blood pressure. Our observation may be of future importance for the understanding of the link between the increase in blood pressure and increasing body weight.