Blood pressure and anthropometric characteristics were studied in 312 rural and 675 urban Bantu of Zaïre aged 10 years and more; proteinuria and the urinary sodium to potassium ratio were determined. On average, systolic and diastolic pressure were higher in rural than in urban Bantu, and rose with advancing age in both populations. However, rural Bantu were older, lighter and smaller, and had a lower sodium:potassium ratio than urban Bantu. Using multiple regression analysis, systolic and diastolic pressures correlated positively with age, weight, pulse rate, sex and sodium:potassium ratio; diastolic pressure also correlated negatively to height. After adjusting blood pressure for these independent correlates, systolic pressure remained significantly higher in rural Bantu. However, no significant difference persisted between the two populations after adjusting blood pressure for age alone. The prevalence of hypertension in rural and urban Bantu increased with age and was 14.2 and 9.9%, respectively, for participants at least 20 years old; women were more affected in the rural area, whereas men were more affected in the urban population. The occurrence of proteinuria was higher in rural Bantu than in urban; it was similar in participants with and without definite hypertension. It is suggested that higher blood pressure in the rural setting was mostly accounted for by the older age of the population.