Myocardial cell apoptosis in genetically determined arterial hypertension was investigated. Male spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats of different ages (8, 15, 52 weeks) were used in the experiment. Caspase-3 and caspase-8 activity in ventricular myocardial cell lysates was assessed by colometric assays based on hydrolysis of the peptide substrate. A significant increase in caspase-3 and caspase-8 activity was revealed in left ventricular myocardium of SHR at the age of 15 weeks. These results show the enhancement of receptor-induced caspase-dependent apoptotic death of left ventricular myocardial cells in genetically determined arterial hypertension. No significant changes of caspase activity were detected in right ventricular myocardium.