We used radio-telemetry to measure 24-hour rhythms of systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure, heart rate and behavioural activity in conscious rabbits, which were maintained under normal day/night rhythms and restricted feeding. Over three consecutive days, all variables showed little change between day-period and night-period, except for a pronounced rise in the afternoon, coinciding with the presentation of pellet food. Mean blood pressure increased during this period from baseline values between 78-82 mm Hg to a peak of 89-91 mm Hg. At the same time heart rate rose from baseline values of 147-161 b/min to a peak of 206-234 b/min and behavioural activity scores rose from 11-31 counts/h to a peak of 52-81 counts/h. Changing the time at which pellet food was presented to the rabbits from the early afternoon to the early morning, caused a complete and immediate shift of the peak of blood pressure and heart rate to the morning period. Chronic intravenous infusion of angiotensin II caused a significant increase in blood pressure (24-hour average: 80 +/- 1 vs. 114 +/- 7 mm Hg) but did not alter basal heart rate or behavioural activity. The increase in heart rate and blood pressure seen with food presentation was attenuated with angiotensin II infusion. These data show that in rabbits diurnal changes in blood pressure, heart rate and activity were determined to a large extent by timed feeding. In addition, in rabbits with angiotensin-induced hypertension the food-induced changes in blood pressure and heart rate were blunted.