Dynorphin receptor binding sites in hippocampal membrane preparations were assessed in spontaneously hypertensive (SHR) and Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats at 4, 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. At 4 weeks of age, before hypertension is manifested, SHRs had significantly more hippocampal dynorphin receptor binding sites than WKY controls. At 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, however, when hypertension is seen, SHRs showed significantly fewer hippocampal binding sites than WKY rats. No receptor affinity changes for dynorphin were seen between the two strains of rats at any age. These results suggest that hippocampal receptor changes involving the opioid system may play a role in the central component of blood pressure control.