Several lines of evidence suggest that hypertension is a contributing factor to diabetic nephropathy, a major cause of mortality in diabetes mellitus patients. The present study tested the hypotheses (1) that insulin dependent diabetes (IDD) causes hypertension, and (2) that simultaneous hypertension and IDD causes greater renal damage than would be expected from the independent contributions of each disease. IDD was induced by injection of streptozotocin (STZ, 65 mg/kg i.p.) into male Wistar rats, causing severe hyperglycaemia within 4 days. Seven days after the STZ treatment, hypertension was initiated by subcutaneous implantation of deoxycorticosterone acetate and administration of 1% saline in the drinking water (DOCA-NaCl). IDD rats not receiving DOCA-NaCl displayed a small elevation of blood pressure one week after STZ treatment, but thereafter displayed significant hypotension. The IDD rats receiving DOCA-NaCl displayed elevated systolic arterial pressure throughout the study, but by the end of the experiment, their mean systolic arterial pressure was significantly lower than that of the rats treated with DOCA-NaCl alone. Only the IDD/DOCA-NaCl rats displayed significant signs of renal dysfunction, i.e. greatly increased proteinuria and morphological renal damage, including marked distension of distal tubules and occasional casts. No other group displayed these abnormalities.