Weight reduction, moderate sodium restriction and alcohol reduction all lower blood pressure significantly in the short-term, and appear feasible in the long-term. Dynamic exercise may have a useful role in selected patients. Cessation of cigarette smoking has no important effect on blood pressure itself but is likely to improve the prognosis. No other non-pharmacological intervention warrants a place in routine management on present evidence. Regimens involving combined reduction in weight, salt and alcohol have proved less effective than drug therapy in terms of blood pressure reduction. Hypertensive patients may be shifted from just above some arbitrary intervention level to just below it by non-pharmacological treatment, and the perceived benefits of non-pharmacological management may be offset by an increased risk of vascular complications related to suboptimal blood pressure control. Moreover even simple measures such as moderate sodium restriction may affect some aspects of quality of life adversely. Non-pharmacological measures should generally be regarded as useful adjuncts to antihypertensive drug therapy rather than alternatives to it.