Due to the results of antihypertensive intervention studies, isolated systolic hypertension (ISH) has gained new interest lately. Yet, apart from increased aortic stiffness, the specific pathophysiological features of ISH have remained largely undetermined. Therefore, we investigated the elastic properties of the vascular bed of an upper arm segment in uncomplicated ISH patients and matched normotensive controls using an electrical bioimpedance technique. Compared with the controls, the compliance of the arterial bed as a whole at normotensive blood pressure level was on the average 108.0% higher (p < 0.005) in the hypertensive patients. The blood volume of the arterial bed as a whole at operating blood pressure level and that of the larger arteries were significantly higher (40.5%, p < 0.05, and 40.5%, p < 0.01, respectively). The same held true for the venous blood volume (64.4%, p < 0.05), and for the width of the arterial compliance-pressure relation (34.6%, p < 0.01). We concluded that ISH is a separate pathophysiological entity in which all parts of a peripheral vascular bed are changed and the decreased buffering function of the aorta and large arteries is partly compensated for by an increase in small artery compliance.