Sibutramine is a serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor that is effective for long-term weight reduction and maintenance in obese patients when used as an adjunct to dietary and behavioural measures. Because the inhibition of noradrenaline reuptake may be expected to increase systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP) and pulse rate (PR), a 12-week multi-centre, placebo-controlled, double-blind study was designed to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of sibutramine for weight loss in obese patients whose hypertension was well controlled (DBP < or = 95 mm Hg) by beta-adrenergic blocking agents (beta-blockers), with or without concomitant thiazide diuretics. Of the 61 patients randomised to sibutramine 20 mg once daily or placebo, 55 patients (90%) completed the study. After 12 weeks, sibutramine-treated patients lost significantly more weight than placebo-treated patients: mean weight reductions were 4.2 kg (4.5%) in the sibutramine group vs 0.3 kg (0.4%) in the placebo group (P<0.001). Greater weight reduction on sibutramine was accompanied by trends for greater mean reductions in serum triglycerides and very low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Sibutramine was well tolerated, and most adverse events were mild or moderate in severity. No sibutramine patient discontinued treatment because of an adverse event. Mean supine and standing DBP and SBP were not statistically significantly different between the sibutramine group and the placebo group at any post-baseline visit during the 12-week trial. At week 12, mean increases from baseline supine SBP and DBP, respectively, were 1.6 and 1.7 mm Hg for the sibutramine group vs increases of 0.4 and 1.3 mm Hg for the placebo group. At week 12, mean increases from baseline standing SBP and DBP, respectively, were 1.5 and 1.8 mm Hg for the sibutramine group vs an increase of 0.3 and a decrease of 0.8 mm Hg for the placebo group (P > 0.05 for treatment comparison). A statistically significant mean increase of 5.6 bpm (+/-8.25, s.d.) in supine PR from a baseline of 62 bpm was reported in sibutramine-treated patients at week 12, whereas placebo-treated patients had a mean supine PR decrease of 2.2 bpm (+/-6.43) (P < 0.001). In summary, sibutramine was well tolerated and effective in weight reduction. The addition of sibutramine did not result in an increase in BP in obese patients whose hypertension was well controlled by a beta-blocker. However, based on the potential for changes in BP and PR, obese patients being treated with sibutramine should be monitored periodically for changes in BP and PR and managed appropriately.