Morphometric measurements at the electron microscope level were carried out on three categories of mesenteric arteries representing elastic (superior mesenteric), muscular and arteriolar vessels, from 10- to 12-week-old spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and age-matched Wistar-Kyoto normotensive rats (WKY). Changes were observed only in muscular and arteriolar vessels of SHR, mainly as thickening of the vessel wall due to hypertrophy of the media. In muscular arteries, hypertrophy of the endothelial cells, widening of the subendothelial space, increased volume of the internal elastic lamina (IEL), and both hyperplasia and hypertrophy of the smooth muscle cells (SMC) in the media contributed to the wall thickening. In arteriolar vessels, increase in the subendothelial space and IEL, and hyperplasia of the SMC in the media were involved in the increased thickness of the vessel wall. There was no difference in the collagen content in all vessels, but elastin was increased in the muscular and arteriolar vessels of SHR. Nerve density was also increased in arteriolar vessels of SHR. These changes, especially the increase of SMC in muscular and arteriolar vessels, may be related to the elevated blood pressure in SHR.