Chronic treatment of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and Kyoto–Wistar normotensive rats (WKY) with nadolol was carried out from gestation until 28 weeks of age. Nadolol treatment caused some lowering of blood pressure but did not prevent the development of hypertension or cardiac hypertrophy in the SHR, in spite of significant β-blockade. The lumen of large mesenteric arteries from control SHR was smaller than from WKY, and nadolol treatment increased the lumen size in the SHR. An increased number of smooth muscle cell layers present in the control SHR as compared with WKY was reduced slightly by nadolol treatment. However, the changes produced by nadolol did not reach the levels of control and treated WKY. In the aorta, the incidence of polyploid smooth muscle cells was higher in the SHR than the WKY in the control group. Nadolol treatment reduced the percentage of polyploid cells in both SHR and WKY, so that the difference between these two groups of animals was eliminated in the treated groups. The tissue level of norepinephrine in the plasma, heart, mesenteric arteries, and adrenal glands in the SHR and WKY was not affected by the treatment. We suggest that the ineffectiveness of nadolol in preventing hypertension development may be due to its lack of effect in preventing primary changes in the resistance arteries, and that the development of polyploidy of smooth muscle cells may be mediated by β-receptors.Key words: nadolol, vascular changes, hypertension, spontaneously hypertensive rats, β-receptor, catecholamines.