The carotid baroreceptors were stimulated for 2 min by neck suction at -30 and -60 mmHg in 19 normotensive subjects and 12 patients with moderate essential hypertension. Blood pressure was measured with a mercury sphygmomanometer and heart rate was derived from beat-to-beat analysis of the electrocardiogram. Blood flow was measured simultaneously at calf and finger with venous occlusion plethysmography and the vascular resistance was calculated. During neck suction at -30 and -60 mmHg there was a significant decrease in arterial blood pressure and heart rate. There was a transient vasodilatation of the calf blood vessels, while there was a sustained vasoconstriction of the finger blood vessels. These results were qualitatively similar in both groups; however, there were quantitative differences. These experiments show that there is a selective autonomic control of the different peripheral vascular beds by the carotid baroreceptors in both normotension and mild essential hypertension.