Spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and two strains of normotensive rats were compared with respect to enzymatic activities and calcium accumulation of plasma membrane and endoplasmic reticulum enriched fractions from their mesenteric arteries. Increased specific activities of alkaline phosphatase, 5'-nucleotidase and Mg2+-ATPase, and increased ATP-dependent calcium accumulation were found in 5- to 6-month-old SHR as compared to both strains fo age-matched normotensive rats. Alkaline phosphatase was increased in 33-day-old "early hypertensive" and 3- to 4-month-old SHR, but 5'-nucleotidase, Mg2+-ATPase, and calcium accumulation were not. Hydralazine treatment of young SHR partially prevented the increase of both alkaline phosphatase activity and blood pressure that develops with age. The relationship between alkaline phosphatase activity and the alterations in vascular reactivity associated with hypertension remains to be determined.