We analyzed the records of all residents of Jefferson County, Alabama, accepted for renal replacement therapy between 1982 and 1987 and compared them with those accepted between 1974 and 1978 to determine any changes in the distribution and frequency of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) due to hypertension (H-ESRD). H-ESRD increased from 6.4 to 9.6 per 100,000 in blacks and from 0.36 to 0.62 per 100,000 in whites. Smoothed age- and race-specific yearly H-ESRD rates decreased in blacks under age 50. Peak incidence of H-ESRD shifted from age 40 to 49 in 1974 through 1978 to age 50 to 59 in 1982 through 1987 (P < 0.0001). Blacks were referred for care with significantly higher blood pressure levels and serum creatinine concentrations than whites, and had more severe retinal vascular disease. Factors significantly associated with a shorter time from referral to renal replacement therapy were black race, female gender, blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine concentrations, carbohydrate intolerance, and the use of α-agonist and/or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor. We conclude that racial distribution and risk for H-ESRD have not changed. Peak rates of H-ESRD have been delayed nearly a decade, suggesting a possible effect of better awareness and treatment of hypertension. © 1991, National Kidney Foundation, Inc.. All rights reserved.