Both endogenous and dietary estrogens reduce hypertension and enhance cognitive abilities in estrogen-depleted female spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Many of the beneficial effects of estrogens/phytoestrogens also appear to be provided by other polyphenols (e.g., proanthocyanidins) in grape seed, which lack appreciable estrogenic receptor binding. The present study tested the hypothesis that similar to phytoestrogens, proanthrocyanidins in grape seed polyphenols reduce salt-sensitive hypertension in young, estrogen-depleted SHR. SHR were ovariectomized at 4 wk of age and placed on phytoestrogen-free diets with or without 0.5% grape seed extract added and with high (8.0%) or basal (0.6%) NaCl. After 10 wk on the diets, grape proanthrocyanidin supplementaiion significantly reduced arterial pressure in the rats fed the basal (10 mmHg) and high (26 mmHg)-NaCl diet, compared with the nonsupplemenied controls. In vitro superoxide production was significantly reduced (23%) by the grape seed polyphenols. Spatial learning (8-arm-radial maze) in the SHR on the basal NaCl diets was improved by dietary grape seed polyphenols. These results indicate that grape seed polyphenols decrease arterial pressure in SHR, probably via an antioxidant mechanism. Copyright © 2005 the American Physiological Society.