BACKGROUND: In elderly individuals, hypertension is a main risk factor for cardiovascular disease and oxidative damage is increased. Our aim was to assess the relationship between the degree of in vivo low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) oxidation and the hypertensive status in a elderly population at high cardiovascular risk. METHODS: Cross-sectional study with baseline data from the PREDIMED (PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea) trial, an intervention study directed at testing the efficacy of the Mediterranean diet on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Participants were 1,130 subjects at high cardiovascular risk aged 55-80. At baseline, in vivo circulating oxLDL was measured, and stages of hypertension determined according to the USA Joint National Committee guidelines. RESULTS: A positive relationship between in vivo oxLDL and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) was observed after adjusting for confounding factors (P < 0.05). OxLDL concentrations increased in a linear manner from low to high hypertensive stages (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Elderly individuals at high cardiovascular risk showed higher levels of circulating oxLDL when their hypertensive status increased. This fact identifies the hypertensive elderly population as a target for antioxidant preventive measures.