Structural changes of three categories of mesenteric arteries (representing elastic, muscular and arteriolar vessels) from 10- to 12-week-old and 28-week-old spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) were studied morphometrically at the light microscope level, and the results compared with age-matched Wistar-Kyoto normotensive rats. In 10- to 12-week-old SHR, hypertrophy of the vessel wall occurred only in the muscular and arteriolar vessels. At 28 weeks, further thickening of the vessel wall occurred in the muscular and arteriolar vessels, and the superior mesenteric artery (elastic vessel) was also thickened in the SHR. There was no evidence that the wall of the relaxed hypertrophied vessels encroached upon the lumen of the vessel. The structural basis for the increase in the vessel wall thickness varied with vessel type. In the superior mesenteric artery, increase in the media at 28 weeks of age would be consistent with hypertrophy of the smooth muscle cells. In the large muscular arteries, at 10–12 weeks of age, increase in medial mass occurred with increase in the number of the smooth muscle cell layers whereas at 28 weeks further increase in media could be due to hypertrophy of the smooth muscle cells. In the small arteriolar vessels, medial enlargement was due at all ages to an increase in the number of smooth muscle layers. Our results show that in the SHR hypertrophy of the media occurs not only in the small arteriolar vessels, but also in large elastic and muscular arteries.