Acute and long-term (up to 56 days) evolution of geometry, structural properties, vascular smooth muscle (VSM) tone and histomorphometric properties of the rat common carotid arteries under induced hypertension were investigated. Hypertension was induced in 8-week old male Wistar rats by total ligation of the aorta between the two kidneys. Rats were sacrificed 2, 4, 8 and 56 days postsurgery. The arterial wall layers thicken non-uniformly during the adaptation process, the inner layers thicken more in the acute phase of hypertension, whereas the outer layers of the wall are thicker than the inner layers at the end of the adaptation phase. Collagen content in the wall media exhibits a non-linear evolution, with a rapid increase in the acute hypertension phase followed by a slower increase at long-term. The elastin content increase is slight and steady, whereas VSM shows a steady but considerable increase which outdoes the collagen increase in long-term phase. VSM tone increases rapidly in the acute phase of remodelling (0-8 days) and this increase in tone contributes to a considerable increase in arterial compliance in the operating pressure range. At long-term (56 days) VSM tone returns to near control level, but compliance is even further increased, which suggests that at long-term the compliance increase is attributed primarily to structural remodelling.