Brachial arterial pressure was directly recorded in 31 healthy male volunteers through protocols examining the effects of the Valsalva maneuver, muscle size and strength, contraction force, contraction type (concentric, isometric, eccentric), changes in joint angle, and muscle fatigue on the blood pressure response to resistance exercise. Weight lifting at the same relative intensity produced similar increases in blood pressure, regardless of individual differences in muscle size or strength. Concentric, isometric, or eccentric exercise at the same relative intensity caused similar increases despite differences in force production. In weight lifting, the greatest increase in blood pressure occurred at the joint angle corresponding to the weakest point in the strength curve and the least at the angle corresponding to the strongest point. Isometric contractions of the same relative intensity at different joint angles produced identical blood pressures despite differences in absolute force production. When subjects attempted to maintain a maximum isometric contraction for 45 s, the blood pressure increase remained the same despite a marked diminution in force. Thus the magnitude of the blood pressure response depends on the degree of effort or central command and not actual force production. A brief Valsalva maneuver, which exaggerates the increase in blood pressure, is unavoidable when desired force production exceeds approximately 80% maximum voluntary contraction.