Abstract Pain sensitivity was studied in renal and DOCA-salt hypertensive rats, and in two strains of rats derived from the same parental strain for their sensitivity (H) or immunity (N) to hypertension induced by DOCA-salt treatment. Experimentally hypertensive rats, and H and N rats were less sensitive to painful stimuli than their appropriate controls, as assessed in the hot-plate and paw tests. Naloxone reversed this hypoalgesia in both experimentally and genetically hypertensive rats while it did not affect blood pressure in any rat-type tested. Opioid activity was measured with the radioreceptor assay in several brain regions and pituary gland of both experimentally and genetically hypertensive rats. Experimentally hypertensive rats had a 45% higher level of opioid activity in the spinal cord compared to control. Rats of the H and N strains both exhibited higher levels of opioid activity in the spinal cord, hypothalamus and pituitary. It is suggested that control systems for blood pressure and pain sensitivity are closely associated in the rat.