The spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) exhibits locomotor hyperactivity in comparison to its normotensive progenitor Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) strain. We asked whether the hyperactive behavior was a direct consequence of elevated blood pressure in the hypertensive rat. Three experimental protocols were used to chronically alter blood pressure. In the first protocol, a group of adult SHRs was given hydralazine (20 mg/kg/day) in their drinking water to lower blood pressure. These animals exhibited a significant decrease in blood pressure, but no change in locomotor activity. In the second protocol, young SHRs (4 weeks of age) were treated with the same dosage of hydralazine until 16 weeks of age. Blood pressure was significantly decreased in these animals with no change in locomotor activity. In the third protocol, normotensive WKY and Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were made hypertensive with unilateral renal clips. The resulting increase in blood pressure in these animals did not alter locomotor activity. These results suggest that locomotor hyperactivity is an inherent property of the SHR and is independent of blood pressure.