Hypertension is an important global health issue and is currently increasing at a rapid pace in most industrializing nations. Although a number of risk factors have been linked with the development of hypertension, including obesity, high dietary sodium, and chronic psychosocial stress, these factors cannot fully explain the variation in blood pressure and hypertension rates that occurs within and between populations. The present study uses data collected on adults from three indigenous Siberian populations (Evenki, Buryat, and Yakut [Sakha]) to test the hypothesis of Luke et al. (Hypertension 43 (2004) 555–560) that basal metabolic rate (BMR) and blood pressure are positively associated independent of body size. When adjusted for body size and composition, as well as potentially confounding variables such as age, smoking status, ethnicity, and degree of urbanization, BMR was positively correlated with systolic blood pressure (SBP; P < 0.01) and pulse pressure (PP; P < 0.01); BMR showed a trend with diastolic blood pressure (DBP; P = 0.08). Thus, higher BMR is associated with higher SBP and PP; this is opposite the well-documented inverse relationship between physical activity and blood pressure. If the influence of BMR on blood pressure is confirmed, the systematically elevated BMRs of indigenous Siberians may help explain the relatively high blood pressures and hypertension rates documented among native Siberians in the post-Soviet period. These findings underscore the importance of considering the influence of biological adaptation to regional environmental conditions in structuring health changes associated with economic development and lifestyle change. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.