Summary 1. The interplay between the immune and renin-angiotensin systems is emerging as a crucial factor in the development and progression of hypertension. The aim of the present study was to determine the involvement of immune cells in the hypertension and renal injury produced by a non-angiotensin II-dependent form of hypertension, namely deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA)-salt-induced hypertension, in rats. 2. Male Sprague-Dawley rats underwent uninephrectomy and received either a sustained-release pellet of DOCA s.c. and 0.9% NaCl (saline) to drink for 21 days or a placebo pellet and water to drink for 21 days. Additional groups of DOCA-salt- and placebo-treated rats were treated concurrently with the immune suppressant mycophenolate mofetil (MMF; 30 mgkg per day). Rats were placed in metabolic cages for 24 h urine collection prior to and at weekly intervals during the 21 day experimental period. 3. Mycophenolate mofetil significantly attenuated the development of hypertension in DOCA-salt rats compared with untreated DOCA-salt hypertensive rats (mean arterial pressure by telemetry on Day 18 146 ± 7 vs 180 ± 3 mmHg, respectively; P < 0.001), as well as proteinuria (87 ± 27 vs 305 ± 63 mgday, respectively, on Day 21) and albuminuria (51 ± 15 vs 247 ± 73 mgday, respectively, on Day 21). Creatinine clearance was better preserved in MMF-treated DOCA-salt rats compared with untreated DOCA-salt rats (0.74 ± 0.07 vs 0.49 ± 0.09 mLmin, respectively; P < 0.05), but was still significantly reduced compared with that in the placebo group (1.15 ± 0.12 mLmin; P < 0.05). Finally, MMF treatment significantly attenuated the DOCA-salt-induced rise in renal cortical T-lymphocyte and macrophage infiltration (P < 0.05). 4. These data indicate that immune cells play a deleterious role in both the hypertension and renal injury associated with DOCA-salt hypertension. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.