The ability of the Na-Ca exchanger to modify vascular relaxation was studied in rings isolated from tail arteries of stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRSP) and normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY). The arteries were contracted with norepinephrine (NE) 1µ M and after stabilization they were transferred to a Ca-free physiological salt solution still in presence of NE. The time to 50% relaxation (T-50) in these conditions was significantly greater in SHRSP (78 ± 7 s) than in WKY (50 ± 7 s). When the calcium pump was stopped with vanadate (VAN), the Ca uptake by the sarcoplasmic reticulum with ryanodine (RY) and the Na-Ca exchanger with a Na-free PSS, the relaxation was slowed (T-50 increased to 198 ± 16 s in SHRSP and to 162 ± 14 s in WKY). Releasing the Na-Ca exchanger only (i.e. still with VAN and RY but with normal Na in the bath) the T-50 for relaxation in Ca-free PSS was, in WKY, nearly as fast as in control conditions (54 ± 8 s). However, the Na-Ca exchanger in SHRSP was not so effective, and the T-50 for relaxation was slower than in control conditions (122 ± 10 s). We conclude that the activity of the Na-Ca exchanger is depressed in tail arteries of SHRSP. This abnormality in resistance vessels, would contribute to the enhanced vascular tone present in hypertension.