The ovariectomized (OVX) Dahl salt-sensitive (DS) rat fed a low-salt diet is a model of postmenopausal hypertension. In addition to estrogen loss, aging can also contribute to postmenopausal hypertension. We hypothesized that: (1) female DS rats on a low-salt diet become hypertensive with age; (2) ovariectomy accelerates age-dependent hypertension in the DS rat caused by estrogen depletion; and (3) this hypertension correlates with increased type 1 angiotensin receptor (AT1R) number (Bmax). Blood pressure was monitored by telemetry from 3 to 12 months and AT1R Bmax was determined by Scatchard analysis in glomeruli and adrenal cortex. Three groups of DS rats were studied: intact, OVX, and 17beta-estradiol-replaced OVX (OVX+E). In intact rats, aging to 12 months resulted in hypertension (159+/-6 mm Hg) and an 82% decrease in estrogen. Blood pressure in OVX was significantly higher than OVX+E through 12 months of age (173+/-4 versus 150+/-8 mm Hg). At 4 months, OVX increased AT1R Bmax compared with intact and OVX+E in both glomeruli and adrenal cortex. Aging also increased AT1R Bmax in these tissues in intact rats. In summary, female DS rats fed a low-salt diet have hypertension develop with age, that is accelerated by OVX and attenuated by estrogen replacement. Concurrently, AT1Rs are upregulated by age and OVX, which is prevented by estrogen replacement. This study suggests that an increased activity of the renin angiotensin system contributes to the development of hypertension, and estrogen protects against this process.