- Purpose of review This review surveys the literature on the search for the genetic basis of hypertension during the 10 months since November 2003. The goals set forth by this search are defined and the highlights of the work accomplished are provided. Recent findings The search for the genetic basis of hypertension is ongoing, generating an abundance of new data. These data consist of a large number of candidate genes, association of previously known and novel candidate genes with various facets of hypertension, detection of new quantitative trait loci and identification of genes that mediate susceptibility to hypertension. The renin–zangiotensin–aldosterone system continues to dominate the interest of investigators. Other gene systems are also emerging but a single-gene system cannot be singled out beyond the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system and the data are mostly sporadic and do not reflect a guided or coordinated effort to resolve unanswered issues. The notion that hypertension is polygenic is reinforced, yet few data are provided as to the actual number of genes involved, gene–gene interaction or gene–environment interaction. Advanced biotechnological tools involving transcriptomics and proteomics are underused. Summary Research on the genetic basis of hypertension has generated over the past year a large number of candidate genes and tied them to various aspects of hypertension. How these genes fit into the complex pathophysiological network that induces hypertension remains unclear. The task of putting together these genes into a cohesive framework still lies ahead, but promises to enlighten us as to the true nature of hypertension, the pathogenic mechanisms involved and improved therapeutic and preventive measures. Abbreviations ACE: angiotensin-converting enzyme; AT1R: angiotensin II receptor type 1; PPARγ: peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ; QTL: quantitative trait locus; RAAS: renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system; SNP: single-nucleotide polymorphism.