Aims Hypertension is a major risk factor for atrial fibrillation. We hypothesized that arterial hypertension would alter atrial myocyte calcium (Ca2+) handling and that these alterations would serve to trigger atrial tachyarrhythmias. Methods and results Left atria or left atrial (LA) myocytes were isolated from spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) or normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) controls. Early after the onset of hypertension, at 3 months of age, there were no differences in Ca2+ transients (CaTs) or expression and phosphorylation of Ca2+ handling proteins between SHR and WKY. At 7 months of age, when left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy had progressed and markers of fibrosis were increased in left atrium, CaTs (at 1 Hz stimulation) were still unchanged. Subcellular alterations in Ca2+ handling were observed, however, in SHR atrial myocytes including (i) reduced expression of the alpha 1C subunit of and reduced Ca2+ influx through L-type Ca2+ channels, (ii) reduced expression of ryanodine receptors with increased phosphorylation at Ser2808, (iii) decreased activity of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (at unaltered intracellular Na+ concentration), and (iv) increased SR Ca2+ load with reduced fractional release. These changes were associated with an increased propensity of SHR atrial myocytes to develop frequency-dependent, arrhythmogenic Ca2+ alternans. Conclusions In SHR, hypertension induces early subcellular LA myocyte Ca2+ remodelling during compensated LV hypertrophy. In basal conditions, atrial myocyte CaTs are not changed. At increased stimulation frequency, however, SHR atrial myocytes become moreprone to arrhythmogenic Ca2+ alternans, suggesting a link between hypertension, atrial Ca2+ homeostasis, and development of atrial tachyarrhythmias.