Our previous studies demonstrated that the sexually dimorphic pattern of hypertension in the spontaneously hypertensive rat is androgen dependent. Gonadectomy retards the development of hypertension in young males, but not in females, and administration of testosterone propionate to gonadectomized spontaneously hypertensive rats of both sexes confers a male pattern of blood pressure development. The current study tested the hypothesis that renal and hepatic renin and angiotensinogen gene expression are also androgen dependent in the spontaneously hypertensive rat. Male and female spontaneously hypertensive rats underwent gonadectomy or a sham operation at 4 weeks of age. Subgroups of gonadectomized rats of both sexes were implanted with a 15-mm or 30-mm Silastic capsule filled with testosterone at the same time the gonadectomy was performed; a third group received an empty Silastic capsule. Northern and slot blot analyses were used to characterize and quantitate renin and angiotensinogen messenger RNA (mRNA) in the kidney and liver 18 weeks after the gonadectomy. Blood pressure, plasma renin activity, and hepatic angiotensinogen mRNA levels were higher in intact males than in females. Orchidectomy retarded the development of hypertension and lowered plasma renin and renal and hepatic angiotensinogen mRNA levels, and testosterone replacement restored the male pattern of hypertension and plasma renin and increased renal and hepatic angiotensinogen mRNA. Ovariectomy did not alter blood pressure or plasma renin but did lower renal renin and renal and hepatic angiotensinogen mRNA; testosterone increased blood pressure, plasma renin, renal renin and angiotensinogen mRNA, and hepatic angiotensinogen mRNA levels in ovariectomized females. These data suggest that the androgen-dependent development of hypertension in spontaneously hypertensive rats may be related to androgen-induced activation of the renin-angiotensin system.