Hypertension in women has received less attention than hypertension in men, and the major controlled trials of antihypertensive therapy have been carried out in populations made up predominantly of and have emphasised outcomes in men. Recently it has been recognised that women develop high blood pressure, particularly systolic hypertension, at an increased rate as they age, and that this age-related blood pressure increase is exaggerated by the menopause. The age-related rise in blood pressure, particularly systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure, contributes substantially to the age-related increase in risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke in middle-aged and elderly women, This article reviews aspects of hypertension epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment that are important to women's health with particular emphasis on important concomitant cardiovascular disease risk factors such as type 2 diabetes and the menopause. The role of ovarian hormones and their withdrawal in the pathogenesis of hypertension and related target organ damage is considered, as are the results of drug treatment of high blood pressure in women. Blood pressure in pregnancy is discussed in a separate article by Broughton-Pipkin and Roberts.