This study was undertaken to study the effects of hyperlipidemia and hypertension on the coronary circulation and on the myocardium of Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbits. Surgery to induce hypertension by the one-kidney, one-clip technique was performed on the WHHL rabbits at 3 months of age. At 3 and 6 months after surgery, the right and left coronary arteries and the left ventricle and posterior papillary muscle from normotensive and hypertensive animals were assessed. Atherosclerotic involvement was found at the coronary origin in 94% of the arteries evaluated. Lesions were usually confined to the proximal 1-2 mm of the coronary artery. The prevalence of coronary atherosclerosis in the WHHL rabbit was found to be higher than previously reported in rabbits of the same age. Hypertension-induced muscular and vascular changes such as left ventricular hypertrophy, medial thickening of the arteries, and hyaline arteriolosclerosis were found in most of the hypertensive animals. These changes were rarely seen in the normotensive rabbits. Characteristics of ischemia and cell injury such as eosinophilic fibers, fiber vacuolization, and contraction band necrosis were found more often in hypertensive than in normotensive WHHL rabbits. Confluent areas of severe necrosis indicative of myocardial infarction were not found; myocardial damage was diffuse and involved individual cells and small microscopic areas. This model may be valuable in further studies of coronary artery disease and myocardial injury that result from the combination of hypercholesterolemia and hypertension.