The aims of this study were, first, to determine quantitatively the levels of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) gene expression in both peripheral and central sites related to blood pressure regulation, and to compare the level of expression in Wistar Kyoto (WKY) and spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Second, to see if any relationship exists between TH gene expression and systolic arterial blood pressure. Total RNA was isolated from adrenal glands and from tissue punches taken from the C1 and A1 cell groups in the rostral and caudal ventrolateral medulla oblongata of the brainstem, respectively. Total RNA was reverse-transcribed into cDNA followed by quantitative fluorescence detection polymerase chain reaction for TH cDNA. The levels of TH gene expression measured as a percentage of the house-keeping gene glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), in SHR, were significantly higher (~2.5-fold) compared to WKY in all sites examined (P<0.01). There was a positive and significant relationship between systolic blood pressure and TH gene expression in the C1 area of the brainstem in both WKY (n=5, P<0.05) and SHR (n=6, P<0.05). Taken together, these results suggest that elevated gene expression of the TH gene is associated with the phenotypic characteristic of SHR.