© The Author(s) 2014. Background: High blood pressure is an important public health concern because it is highly prevalent and a risk factor for adverse health outcomes, including coronary heart disease, stroke, decompensated heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and decline in cognitive function. Observational studies show a progressive increase in risk associated with blood pressure above 115/75 mm Hg. Prior research has shown that reducing elevated systolic blood pressure lowers the risk of subsequent clinical complications from cardiovascular disease. However, the optimal systolic blood pressure to reduce blood pressure-related adverse outcomes is unclear, and the benefit of treating to a level of systolic blood pressure well below 140 mm Hg has not been proven in a large, definitive clinical trial. Purpose: To describe the design considerations of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) and the baseline characteristics of trial participants. Methods: The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial is a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial that compares two strategies for treating systolic blood pressure: one targets the standard target of <140 mm Hg, and the other targets a more intensive target of <120 mm Hg. Enrollment focused on volunteers of age ≥50 years (no upper limit) with an average baseline systolic blood pressure ≥130 mm Hg and evidence of cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, 10-year Framingham cardiovascular disease risk score ≥15%, or age ≥75 years. The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial recruitment also targeted three pre-specified subgroups: participants with chronic kidney disease (estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 mL/min/1.73 m2), participants with a history of cardiovascular disease, and participants 75 years of age or older. The primary outcome is first the occurrence of a myocardial infarction (MI), acute coronary syndrome, stroke, heart failure, or cardiovascular disease death. Secondary outcomes include all-cause mortality, decline in kidney function or development of end-stage renal disease, incident dementia, decline in cognitive function, and small-vessel cerebral ischemic disease. Results: Between 8 November 2010 and 15 March 2013, Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial recruited and randomized 9361 people at 102 clinics, including 3331 women, 2648 with chronic kidney disease, 1877 with a history of cardiovascular disease, 3962 minorities, and 2636 ≥75 years of age. Limitations: Although the overall recruitment target was met, the numbers recruited in the high-risk subgroups were lower than planned. Conclusions: The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial will provide important information on the risks and benefits of intensive blood pressure treatment targets in a diverse sample of high-risk participants, including those with prior cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and those aged ≥75 years.