BACKGROUND: The Valstartan Intensified Primary CarE Reduction of Blood Pressure Study (VIPER-BP) Study is an open-label, randomised controlled trial comparing usual primary care management with an intensive BP management strategy using three forms of valsartan-based therapy (mono-therapy, thiazide diuretic or calcium channel blocker combinations) to achieve individualised BP control. METHODS: To identify the features of General Practitioner (GP) management of hypertension in Australia, we analyse the response to a case scenario-based survey of 500 GPs. We subsequently recruited a national cohort of GP Investigators to enrol up to 2500 patients into the VIPER-BP Study. RESULTS: GP responses clearly demonstrated that, compared to the VIPER-BP intervention, a heterogeneous approach to the primary care management of hypertension persists in Australia. By November 2010, 2157 hypertensive patients from 272 actively recruiting GP Investigators were enrolled into the study. Of these, 1965 (91%) patients were entered into a standardised "run-in" phase of 28 days of valsartan 80 mg/day. Subsequently, 1285 patients were randomised to usual care (n=435) or the VIPER-BP intervention (n=850). There was a predominance of males (62%), whilst 55% had pre-existing diabetes or cardiovascular disease and 63% had been previously treated for hypertension. Mean systolic and diastolic BP on randomisation for men and women, respectively, was 148 ± 15/88 ± 11 and 148 ± 18/87 ± 10 mm Hg. CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to typical primary care management of hypertension, VIPER-BP combines more intensive and aggressive therapies with structured management to more rapidly attain and sustain individualised BP targets in hypertensive patients.