To determine the role of the renal afferent nerves in the pathogenesis of one-kidney, one-clip renovascular hypertension, the renal afferent nerves were selectively lesioned by dorsal rhizotomy, a procedure that eliminates renal sensory input to the spinal cord but does not directly damage the sympathomotor innervation of the kidney. One week after denervation, the proximal left renal artery was clipped in denervated and sham control rats. Blood pressure of the sham group rose progressively over the next 5 wk, to 185 mmHg (systolic). In contrast, blood pressure of the denervated rats leveled off in the borderline hypertensive range, a level significantly lower than that of the sham group but significantly higher than that of non-clipped rats. In two further experiments the specificity of this effect was demonstrated. Lesion of the dorsal root nerves on the side of nephrectomy did not significantly lower blood pressure of non-clipped rats, and contralateral dorsal rhizotomy did not lower the blood pressure of clipped rats. These results demonstrate that the renal afferent nerves significantly contribute to one-kidney, one-clip renovascular hypertension in the rat.