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The views of 542 general practitioners (GPs) and 64 consultant physicians about the management of patients with hypertension in general practice were sought by postal questionnaire. 325 (60%) of the GPs and 45 (70%) of the consultant physicians completed the questionnaire. For a 40-year-old man with no other cardiovascular risk factors most general practitioners would intervene with drugs at blood pressure levels specified in published guidelines, whereas many local consultants and older GPs would consider drug treatment at lower levels. About 75% of GPs, compared with 87% of consultants, would suggest drug treatment in a woman of 70 years with a BP of 180/100 mmHg. Although consultants tended to expect GPs to order more tests when investigating a patient with hypertension than the GPs actually did, both GPs and consultants would order similar types of investigations apart from imaging. Consultants had different expectations about the frequency with which general practitioners should record patients' blood pressure and the GPs' ability to prevent cardiovascular events in hypertensive patients. Many older GPs and consultants seem to have unrealistic expectations of the value of treating patients with hypertension.