This study tested the hypothesis that long-term hypertension impairs spatial learning and memory in rats. In 6-wk-old Sprague-Dawley rats, chronic hypertension was induced by placing one of three sizes of stainless steel clips around the descending aorta (above the renal artery), resulting in a 20-80-mm Hg increase of arterial pressure in all arteries above the clip, that is, the upper trunk and head. Ten months later, the rats were tested for 5 d in a repeated-acquisition water maze task, and on the fifth day, they were tested in a probe trial; that is, there was no escape platform present. At the end of the testing period, the nonsurgical and sham control groups had similar final escape latencies (16 ± 4 sec and 23 ± 9 sec, respectively) that were not significantly different from those of the three hypertensive groups. Rats with maid hypertension (140-160 mm Hg) had a final escape latency of 25 ± 6 sec, whereas severely hypertensive rats (170-199 mm Hg) had a final escape latency of 21 ± 7 sec and extremely hypertensive rats (>200 Hg) had a final escape latency of 19 ± 5 sec. All five groups also displayed a similar preference for the correct quadrant in the probe trial. Together, these data suggest that sustained, severe hypertension for over 10 mo is not sufficient to impair spatial learning and memory deficits in otherwise normal rats.